My teen has broken the law

Out-of-court support

Youth crime is often dealt with out of court. The Youth Criminal Justice Act supports this approach. It is known as ‘extrajudicial' measures. This means that the police may refer a teen to a specific community program – instead of laying a charge.

In these programs youth can:

This group of programs is officially called Pre-Charge Extrajudicial Measures or EJM.

Waiting for court

If police lay a charge, youth may be:


A youth may be held in detention when the court decides that:

Detention centres are also custody centres. Youth may meet other young people who have been found guilty and are serving sentences in these centres. Support your teen to work with staff, make positive choices and stay away from any influence for further trouble with the law.

A probation officer is assigned to work with youth in detention.

Services in detention are offered to help youth:

Specialized programs

Some youth in conflict with the law also have mental health needs. Ontario provides services that include collaboration with health professionals who have been working with these youth.

For example, a Youth Mental Health Court Worker Program can help you access mental health programs. You can contact your regional youth justice office to learn more about specialized mental health programs for youth in trouble with the law.

As part of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, additional mental health workers provide direct services and support to youth across Ontario.

There are 46 specific youth justice community-based programs for First Nations, Inuit or Métis young people who are in conflict with the law. First Nations, Inuit or Métis youth also receive other youth justice services. Contact your regional youth justice office to learn more.