Break & Enter Charges
Break, Enter & Theft from a house is a criminal charge under Canada's Criminal Code. It is a very serious criminal offence because the action of going into someone's house is very dangerous for both the homeowner and the intruder. For adults, persons convicted of break & entry into a house, will receive a conviction and go to jail for a long time. Young persons charged with this offence also face a real prospect of jail. The finding of guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act will follow a young person for many years. Such records are not erased at age 18 as some people think. Young persons charged with this offence need thorough legal representation just as much as adults.
If you or your child have been charged with a break & enter offence, you will need to retain a lawyer. A properly retained lawyer can guide you through the criminal process and make sure that you and your child get the best possible result. Criminal Courts, including Youth Courts, can be very confusing places. You have never been in this situation before. You don't know whom you can trust with information. You want to protect your right or your child's right to silence. You don't want to make matters worse. The Crown makes you an offer and you don't know if acceptance of that offer is the best result you can get.
Public defenders, duty counsel, and lawyers on legal aid certificates are very busy people who don't have time to listen to the whole story. They have severe limitations on the time they can spend on any one case. They can't be as creative as a properly retained private lawyer. They can't advance as many defences. They just don't do as many trials as criminal law lawyers in private practice. Lawyers who are employed by government or who are paid by government are less independent than lawyers in private practice who act on private retainers. There are initiatives in Ontario aimed at reducing Court appearances and Court time. These initiatives are called Justice on Target. Individuals are encouraged to plead guilty or agree to an alternative measure to move Court cases along and reduce total numbers of persons appearing in Court and the number of trials.
Generally speaking, Justice on Target has a good side and a bad side. The good side has to do with earlier disclosure (which you get sometimes) and earlier Crown screening of a file. The bad side has to do with encouraging young persons, and adult accused persons, to plead guilty sooner and avoid trials. Pleading guilty early on, and avoiding a trial, means NO CHANCE of being found "Not Guilty" and no chance of the Crown withdrawing the charges.
If a Young Person pleads guilty to ANYTHING they have a criminal record of a finding of guilt. It is very hard to get rid of that record completely. As a parent, you would want to make sure to keep your child's record as clean as possible. You, as a parent, are not concerned about Justice on Target; you are concerned with the best interests of your child. You need a lawyer who independently represents your child, not someone who reflects Justice on Target initiatives and achievements.
Getting the best result possible is very important when it comes to the long term effects of a Youth Court record. A record of a finding of not guilty or a withdrawal by the Crown, for a serious offence like break & enter, is a much easier expungement request than a record of a guilty plea and finding of guilt. Police are more likely to expunge not guilty findings or withdrawals from their records.