Alternative Measures Program (AMP) in Canada

By Last Updated: June 18, 2024

What is the Alternative Measures Program (AMP)?

Alternative Measures Program (AMP) in CanadaThe Alternative Measures Program (AMP) is a way for you to accept responsibility for your actions without being found guilty of a criminal offence.

In effect, the program ensures that you avoid a conviction by diverting the matter out of the criminal justice system.

This means that you will not receive a criminal record for the offence, and you will be able to honestly say that you have never been found guilty nor convicted of any criminal offence.

To provide a better understanding of AMP, we have provided an example of an Adult Provincial Alternative Measures Referral form, followed by an Alternative Measures Instruction page and Federal Application:

While the Adult Alternative Measures Program is authorized by the Criminal Code of Canada (the “Code”), the specifics of the program may vary by province.

For information on the Alternative Measures Program in your area, please contact one of our dedicated defence lawyers or select the location nearest you and select “Alternative Measures Program” from the “Court Process” drop-down menu.

How to Accept Responsibility for Your Actions Without Getting a Criminal Record

A requirement of AMP is that the accused person accepts responsibility for the offence. This does not mean you agree with everything that the Crown is alleging, but that you accept responsibility for what happened.

According to section 717 of the Code, this information cannot, and will not, be used against you for any purpose, except if you re-offend.

When alternative measures may be used

 (1) Alternative measures may be used to deal with a person alleged to have committed an offence only if it is not inconsistent with the protection of society and the following conditions are met:

(a) the measures are part of a program of alternative measures authorized by the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s delegate or authorized by a person, or a person within a class of persons, designated by the lieutenant governor in council of a province;

(b) the person who is considering whether to use the measures is satisfied that they would be appropriate, having regard to the needs of the person alleged to have committed the offence and the interests of society and of the victim;

(c) the person, having been informed of the alternative measures, fully and freely consents to participate therein;

(d) the person has, before consenting to participate in the alternative measures, been advised of the right to be represented by counsel;

(e) the person accepts responsibility for the act or omission that forms the basis of the offence that the person is alleged to have committed;

(f) there is, in the opinion of the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s agent, sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the offence; and

(g) the prosecution of the offence is not in any way barred at law.

Who is Eligible for The Alternative Measures Program?

The Crown is the gatekeeper of the program and will often need to be convinced that AMP is the most appropriate solution.

It is important to understand that only some people are eligible for AMP, largely based on their criminal record and the offence(s) they are alleged to have committed.

Section 717 of the Code gives us some information on who is eligible for AMP:

  • First time offenders are eligible for most summary conviction offences and even some indictable offences.
  • Second time offenders may be eligible if two years have passed since their last conviction or AMP community service.

AMP is also available for minor Federal charges, such as possession of a controlled substance.

Conversely, the program is generally not available for serious violent offences, offences using a firearmdomestic violence, criminal harassment, or offences where the victim is a child.

If the Crown consents to AMP, one of our dedicated defence lawyers will attend court and speak to the judge to request that you be given enough time to complete your community service.

It is important to understand that any conditions the court has imposed on you continue to be in effect during this period.

Once you have completed the community service we will provide confirmation to the Crown, and then go in front of a judge again to have your charge withdrawn.

It is your choice which non-profit you wish to do community service for, but you should always make sure it’s a reputable registered charitable organization that keeps proper records and timesheets of your attendance.

What’s Next?

Contact us today to discuss your eligibility for AMP. We will make every effort to convince the Crown on your behalf that you are good fit for the program.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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