As required under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, all Albertans ages 12 to 17 charged with a criminal offense are eligible to get a lawyer from Legal Aid Alberta (LAA). We have staff lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton that handle youth matters, and roster lawyers who cover youth matters across the province as needed.
In total, 3,201 certificates were issued in Youth Criminal Law, a small increase from 2017-2018, to clients with an average age of 17 years old. Clients were represented in over 70 communities in the province, with the majority being located in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.
Staff lawyers often work with justice navigators, who are LAA employees trained to support clients with the identification of options and strategies to legally related issues, in order to maximize the best possible outcome in court.
Last year, LAA saw a decrease in the total number of active certificates across the province in all areas except for Youth Criminal Law, which saw a marginal increase.
In 2018-19, LAA also advocated for young Albertans when our staff lawyer Karen McGowan’s charter challenge against the extended segregation of an Alberta youth was successful when the judge ruled it unlawful confinement and in contravention of national and international law, and when LAA was granted intervener status at Supreme Court of Canada to argue there should be a lower presumptive ceiling for youth proceedings.
For more information about how we assist Albertans – young and old – during difficult times in their lives, check out this interactive website that was developed to showcase the 2018-2019 fiscal year and our successes.