I am 15 and have been charged with a crime that isn't serious. Can I do community service instead of going to court?
This answer is taken from Guide to Youth Criminal Court in Toronto, produced by Justice for Children and Youth. (Most of the information in Guide to Youth Criminal Court in Toronto applies to all of Ontario, but some referrals are specific to the Toronto area.)
Extrajudicial sanctions (EJS) programs take youth out of the court process by substituting community-based tasks, like community service, an apology, repairing the damage you caused, or attending counselling or mediation. This is overseen by a probation officer who decides what sanctions you must complete. When you successfully complete the program, the charge(s) will be withdrawn and you will not have a youth court record. However, there will be a record of your participation in an EJS program. This record of participation in an EJS program will last for 2 years from the date that you agree to participate in an EJS program
You are eligible for the program if the Crown decides that it's appropriate, and if you accept some responsibility for the offence (not exactly the same as pleading guilty). It will say on your charge screening form if you are "eligible for EJS" and the Crown will offer the program to you in court.
You can also speak with your lawyer or duty counsel about EJS or ask for it yourself. For a less serious offence, ask for an application from the duty counsel before your first appearance or as soon as possible.
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