Diverting Charges Outside of the Criminal Justice System

By Last Updated: July 21, 2022

What is Diversion?

Diverting Charges Outside of the Criminal Justice SystemAlthough the conventional options for a person charged with an offence are to plead guilty or not guilty, there are several other options you should be aware of.

Quite often the lowest form of offences, such as mischieftheftfraudpossession of stolen propertyassault, and drug possession can be diverted out of the criminal justice system.

In the right circumstances, more serious charges such as criminal harassment, indecent exposure, and assaulting a police officer can also be diverted.

Diversion programs are meant to give individuals with no criminal history a second chance at maintaining their otherwise clean record. Furthermore, they promote a sense of responsibility and accountability.

This article will provide a general overview of who is eligible for these non-criminal resolutions, and the different types.

For location-specific information on diversion programs, please select the location nearest you and select “Diversion” from the “Court Process” drop-down menu.

Who is Eligible for Diversion?

While certain circumstances are more likely to be resolved through non-criminal resolution, the discretion to divert a charge out of the criminal system lies solely with the Crown Prosecutor.

For every criminal charge there is a prosecutor, and therefore, an opportunity for us to convince him or her to resolve the case with no criminal record.

The importance of this process cannot be overstated. You may be surprised to know that of the thousands of successful cases our lawyers have handled, the most successful results are not achieved through a hard-fought trial, but rather behind the scenes in skillful negotiation with the prosecution.

In our experience, successful results are often achieved by appealing to reason, pragmatism, and the compassion of the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Our decades of collective experience has allowed us to get to know the majority of Crown Prosecutors nationwide, and most importantly, understand what they consider to be important when considering a non-criminal resolution.

In each case we carefully assess who the prosecutor is, the circumstances of your case, potential issues that may arise and custom tailor our presentation accordingly.

Types of Non-Criminal Resolutions

The following are the most common types of resolution options that generally* result in no criminal record:

  • Adult Provincial Alternative Measures Program;
  • Adult Federal Alternative Measures Program;
  • Youth Extra Judicial Sanctions;
  • Mental Health Diversion; and
  • Peace Bond (s. 810 or common law).

*Please note that these programs vary by province. For location-specific information on diversion programs, please select the location nearest you and select “Diversion” from the “Court Process” drop-down menu.

In some areas, there are Indigenous Courts, which seek to provide a culturally relevant and restorative approach to criminal justice. For more information on what is available in your area, please go to the location specific page for the office nearest you or contact one of our dedicated criminal defence lawyers.

The facts and circumstances of one offence to the next vary greatly. Therefore, it is important to obtain a legal opinion to determine if your circumstances fit the criteria for diversion out of the criminal justice system. Consulting an experienced criminal defence lawyer early on can save time, money, and stress while you or your loved one is going through a difficult time. Please read the FAQs below for a more thorough description of the various resolution options available.

What’s Next?

Criminal convictions can have both short and long-term impacts on your life. For example, criminal records can negatively impact your ability to:

  • Find housing;
  • Secure employment; and
  • Travel.

They may also impact child custody arrangements, as well as immigration status. Given the serious repercussions and stigma surrounding criminal records, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to consider all your options, including the possibility of a non-criminal resolution.

To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of criminal defence lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.

Resolutions FAQs 

  1. What is the adult alternative measures program?
  2. How can I get my charges diverted to the alternative measures program?
  3. What is mental health diversion (MHD)?
  4. How can I get mental health diversion?
  5. What is a peace bond?
  6. How will a peace bond affect my criminal record?

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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