When would a young person receive an adult sentence?

All court proceedings regarding a young person take place in Youth Justice Court with an adult sentence made available as a sentencing option after a finding of guilt for specified offences. It must be an indictable offence for which an adult is liable to imprisonment for more than two years. An adult sentence can only be imposed if the young person was 14 years of age or older at the time of the offence. In most youth cases the Crown is not seeking an adult sentence. Adult sentence applications are usually reserved for cases involving serious violence.

If the Crown is seeking an adult sentence, the Youth Justice Court holds a hearing as part of sentencing to decide whether or not there should be an adult sentence. At this hearing the onus is on the Crown to show that a youth sentence would not have sufficient length to hold the young person accountable for his or her offending behaviour.