If you have been charged with any crime, the best way to protect yourself is to hire a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff who would be happy to work with you on your case.
What Is Diversion?
If you have been charged with a minor crime (i.e.: theft under $5,000, simple assault, etc.), often there is an option offered that does not involve either a guilty plea or trial. Diversion is only ever offered, for relatively minor offences. You must be offered access to the program by the Crown (prosecuting lawyer) and enter into the program freely. Usually, the sign up office for Diversion will be located within the local court house. In exchange for completing the components of the program the Crown would withdraw the charges, resulting in no criminal record. Diversion is meant to “divert” people out of the criminal justice system, with community based sanctions.
Types Of Diversion Programs?
There are a number of different programs offered that allow accused to “Accept Responsibility” rather than plead guilty. These types of programs go by many names including; the Direct Accountability Program (for adults), the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program (for youth), the Aboriginal Community Justice Program (for indigenous accused), the Mental Health Diversion Program (for mentally ill accused), etc. All of the different programs have a different focus depending on the needs and unique characteristics of the accused person.
What Will I Be Asked To Do In The Diversion Program?
There are a number of different programming options available. A Program worker (often social workers) assign the tasks to each accused, the program’s options often have rehabilitation elements (such as anger management, substance counselling, etc.) and/or they aim to make amends for the offence (i.e.: restitution, a mandatory charitable donation, community service, etc.). For example, in a simple assault case a Diversion program could include an apology letter, attending an anger management program and 10 hours of community service. Upon completion, the Crown would withdraw the charges.
Diversion is not right for every case, for very serious matters, the Crown will usually want harsher sanctions, and may not offer the program. In other cases, the accused may have been wrongfully charged, in which case a trial would be the only viable option. It is best to discuss all of your options with a criminal defence lawyer before making any decisions on your case. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff who would be happy to speak with you about your case. We accept Legal Aid retainers for low income individuals.
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