Are You Eligible for a Diversion Program?
If you are charged with a crime, you may be able to deal with the charges without having to plead guilty or go to trial. The Criminal Code provides the opportunity to participate in a diversion program which allows that if certain conditions are met. Diversion is generally available for less serious, first time offences. Diversion results in no criminal conviction if the person charged with a crime accepts responsibility for the offence, and completes specific commitments made.
Diversion is usually paired with community supervision by a probation officer. If you are accepted into diversion, the range of options includes things like making an apology to the victim, doing unpaid community service, and taking part in counselling programs.
To be eligible (if you are Aboriginal there is a special diversion program available for you. Ask courthouse staff where to go to get more information).
- You must accept responsibility (you do not need to plead guilty) for the offence and its consequences.
- You are remorseful (regret and recognize what you did was wrong) and are willing to take steps so that you do not return to the court with new charges.
- You make reparations for the harm done to the victims or community by your behaviour.
- The crime was not serious.
- You have no criminal record, or a minor record from a long time ago.
The Crown Prosecutor must accept the proposal for diversion if:
If the Crown Prosecutor agrees to consider diversion, you will be asked to attend an interview to discuss whether you are a good candidate for diversion, and what will be expected of you. A diversion contact will be written up and you may be required to do things like write a letter of apology, go for counselling, do some unpaid community service. You will be given three months to complete the specified activity or activities. If you do so, Crown will “stay” the charges in court. That means you will not have a criminal conviction. However, it would be recorded on your permanent record and if you come in conflict with the law again, Crown Prosecutors will see that you participated in a diversion program.