Older suspect faces stiffer penalty. Twenty-two-year-old to be tried as an adult but teen falls under Youth Criminal Justice Act

Louise Dickson, Times Colonist Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two young men, charged with the same killing in Victoria, will face drastically different punishments if convicted.

The law will deal with Somphavanh Chanthaboula, 22, and a 16-year-old youth, who cannot be named due to provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, under different legal processes.

The two are charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Philbert Truong on View Street early Saturday morning. They also face two counts of attempted murder.

The adult sentence for first-degree murder is life imprisonment, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Under the previous Young Offenders Act, young people charged with serious offences such as murder, attempted murder or aggravated sexual assault could be prosecuted in adult court, said Neil MacKenzie, acting communications counsel for the criminal justice branch of the Attorney General's ministry.

Now, under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, young people are sentenced in youth court -- although they may receive an adult sentence, said MacKenzie.

A decision in May by the Supreme Court of Canada no longer requires lawyers for young people to demonstrate why an adult sentence is inappropriate. Instead, it puts the onus on the Crown to demonstrate the need for an adult sentence.

Young people also have the right to be tried in youth court by judge and jury.

Under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the sentence for first-degree murder is a maximum of 10 years, with no more than six years in custody, followed by a period of conditional supervision in the community.

If the conviction is for second-degree murder, the sentence is a maximum seven years, with not more than four years in custody, followed by conditional supervision in the community.

Young people who receive an adult sentence for first-degree murder have different parole eligibility periods than adults.

An offender who was 16 or 17 at the time of the offence will receive a life sentence and be eligible for parole after 10 years. An offender who was 14 or 15 at the time of the offence will also receive a life sentence and is eligible for parole after between five and seven years.

For second-degree murder, the offender receives a life sentence and is eligible for parole after seven years.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a young person under 18 who receives an adult sentence will be placed in a youth custody facility.

The court can also require the young offender to remain in custody if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the young person will commit an offence causing death or serious harm before the end of the sentence.

Young people can continue to serve in the youth facility until the age or 20, or longer, at the discretion of the judge.

ldickson@tc.canwest.com

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008



Youth Criminal Justice Act, the sentence for first-degree murder is a maximum of 10 years, with no more than six years in custody
If the conviction is for second-degree murder, the sentence is a maximum seven years, with not more than four years in custody
WHAT THE *UKC is the point of having a "maximum" if he/she is not "allowed" to serve the full sentence?