If you have been charged with a criminal offence (typically a Criminal Code or Controlled Drugs and Substances offence) you will get a criminal record if you are convicted, either after trial or pleading guilty. Of course, if you win the case at trial you will not have a criminal record. But you don’t always have to take the case to trial to avoid a criminal record.
The best way to avoid a criminal record for your criminal charges is to convince the prosecutor to withdraw the charges completely. The primary considerations from the prosecutor’s perspective are whether there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction, and whether it is in the public interest to pursue a prosecution. Establishing a problem with the likelihood of conviction requires a legal analysis.
For example, if we can identify a clear problem with the prosecutor’s case (like a witness dying or moving away), that would present a sufficient problem to negate the likelihood of conviction. Convincing a prosecutor that there is no public interest in prosecuting a person requires more of a common sense approach.
For example, one of our cases involved a husband who had threatened his wife. The wife reported the threat to the police and the police issued a warrant for the husband’s arrest. Neither the husband or wife knew about it, and had since parted ways amicably and resolved all outstanding issues. The husband was arrested during a traffic stop, but when the matter went to court, we successfully convinced the prosecutor that the matter had already resolved itself and there was no public interest in prosecuting the husband.
Even when the charges are not withdrawn, there are still several opportunities to resolve the matter without a criminal record, including:
- Extrajudicial sanctions (for youth matters)
- Alternative Measures Program
- Mental Health Diversion
- Criminal Code Peace Bond
- Common Law Peace Bond
- Informal Peace Bond
- Absolute Discharge
- Conditional Discharge
- Curative Discharge
For a detailed summary of the many ways a criminal record can be avoided without going to trial, please visit the Resolutions page, and the Sentencing page of this website.