The Criminal Legal System for Teenagers


The Criminal Legal System for Teenagers

Duration: 4 period(s)
Suggested level: Secondary Cycle One
Subject: Culture and Citizenship in Quebec, English Language Arts



The monetary value of claims that can be heard by the Court of Québec and the Superior Court has been modified on June 30, 2023. As a result, our teaching guide is currently under review.

This activity explains how the criminal legal system often treats teenagers differently than adults. It starts with an overview of the court system and some basic criminal law concepts, such as the presumption of innocence.

The classroom activities include discussions, debates, a simulation of the court decision process and an optional essay. Students are asked to reflect on why there is a special criminal process for teenagers and to give their opinions on the issue.

Educational objectives

  • To encourage students to reflect on the reasons youth are treated differently in the criminal justice system
  • To increase students’ knowledge of the youth criminal justice system
  • To encourage students to engage in dialogue and express their opinion

Subjects and subject-specific competencies

  • Ethics and Religious Culture:
    • Competency 1: Reflects on ethical questions
      • Analyzes a situation from an ethical point of view
      • Evaluates options or possible actions
    • Competency 3: Engages in dialogue
      • Interacts with others
      • Develops a substantiated point of view
  • English Language Arts
    • Competency 1: Uses language/talk to communicate and to learn
    • Competency 2: Represents her/his literacy in different media


Four periods

Broad areas of learning

  • Health and Well-Being
    • Self-awareness and awareness of his/her basic needs
    • Awareness of the consequences of collective choices on individual well-being
  • Citizenship and Community Life
    • Promotion of the rules of social conduct and democratic institutions
    • Adoption of a culture of peace

Cross-curricular competencies

  • Uses information
    • Gathers information and puts it to use
  • Solves problems
    • Analyzes the components of a situational problem
    • Tests possible solutions
  • Exercises critical judgment
    • Forms, qualifies and expresses his/her opinion

Related content

External pedagogical tools

  • Canada’s Department of Justice has videos on the criminal legal system for teenagers.

External resources

  • LET’S TALK LAW is a service offered by the Young Bar of Montreal which lets 12- to 20-year-olds speak to a lawyer for free. This telephone service is available to all youth in Quebec, regardless of where they live.
  • Legal aid allows low-income persons to receive the services of a lawyer free of charge (or at low cost) in certain situations.
  • The Crime Victims Assistance Centres offer assistance to victims of crimes.
  • Quebec’s alternative justice organizations work with young offenders. These organizations have offices all over Quebec, and they are organized into two networks:
    1. Équijustice (French only)
    2. ASSOJAQ (French only)