Common Questions

I’m under 18 and in trouble with the law. What are my rights?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees basic rights to everyone – including teenagers. The resources below explain your legal rights in various common situations, how criminal law applies to young people, and what to expect in youth court.

Good starting points include:

  • Young People and the Criminal Law, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, is a factsheet about your rights if the police stop and question you, if you are arrested, and if you are charged with an offence but not arrested.
  • Legal Rights 4 U, from the Justice Education Society of BC, covers youth rights in a range of situations, including being stopped by police and being arrested.
  • Youth Justice Court Trials, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, discusses what happens in youth court.
  • LSLAP Manual: Youth Justice, from the UBC Law Students' Legal Advice Program, includes an overview of criminal procedure and sentencing of young people.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed January 2015

rights of children & teens, young people and criminal law, youth court, young offenders