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Common Questions

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

Last reviewed in September 2022 by the Clicklaw Editors

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 People's Law School, 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.
  • Youth Justice Court Trials, from People's Law School, 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.

Need more help?

  • Call the Legal Aid BC Call Centre at 1-866-577-2525 or 604-408-2172 to see if you qualify for legal aid.
  • Child and Youth Legal Centre, from the Society for Children and Youth of BC, provides support for youth who are experiencing problems related to family law, child protection, human rights and other issues.
  • Lawyer Referral Service, from Access Pro Bono, offers a free, brief initial consultation with a lawyer to determine your legal needs. If you would like further help from your lawyer, you can retain them at an agreeable rate of charge.
  • Law Students Legal Advice Clinics, from UBC Law Students' Legal Advice Program (LSLAP), provides free legal advice and representation to low income clients.
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

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