Right to counsel
Young people in Canada have a statutory right to exercise their right to counsel – to say that they need a lawyer, and to instruct the lawyer how to act in their case. A young person is allowed to choose their own lawyer for their proceedings in criminal court. The lawyer represents the young person not their parent or guardian. If it appears to a youth court judge that the interests of the young person and their parent conflict, the judge has the power to order that the young person be represented by counsel independent of the parent or guardian.
(YCJA, s. 25)
If a young person cannot pay for a lawyer and is refused a legal aid certificate, a youth court judge has the power to order that the young person be represented by counsel of their own choice.
The YCJA requires that a young person’s parent or guardian be given notice if a young person is charged with an offence (YCJA, s 26)
If a parent fails to attend court proceedings for their child, the court can order them to attend (YCJA, s. 27)
A youth court has the authority, at any stage in the criminal proceedings, to refer a young person to a child welfare agency for assessment to determine if the young person is in need of child welfare services (YCJA, s. 35)