In the Canadian criminal justice system, “diversion” (for adults) or “extrajudicial measures” (for young persons) is a process where police or prosecutors agree to take a course of action that either avoids charges altogether or avoids having charges lead to a finding of guilt.
Pre-charge diversion (for adults) or “alternative measures” (for young persons) happens when the police agree not to charge a person with a criminal offence, normally where the person has been arrested for a minor offence – instead, the police will issue a warning or caution or refer the person to a rehabilitative program to help avoid re-offence.
The benefit of pre-charge diversion is that the person is never even charged with a criminal offence, thereby avoiding the stigma of criminal charges and the costs associated with defending against charges.
Some police officers will consider and offer pre-charge diversion or alternative measures, but some will not. If a person is able to contact a lawyer before being arrested, the lawyer may be able to raise the issue with the police and persuade them to offer a pre-charge diversion program or alternative measure before they make up their mind to lay charges.
There are a number of organizations in the East Region of Ontario that offer pre-charge diversion and alternative measures programs.
Our lawyers are available to assist with persons under investigation or arrest who want to explore the option of pre-charge diversion or alternative measures. If appropriate, we can speak with police officers, propose programs, and facilitate the application process.
Contact the lawyer of your choice for a free consultation.
This blog post is part of our Canadian criminal justice series – we hope that these blog posts will shed some light on the Canadian criminal justice system for clients and potential clients, members of the community, and law students. Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to propose any changes or updates.