Methods to Resolving Charges
Alternative Measures Program or Diversion Program
Alternative measures, also referred to as diversion, may be available to an accused person for certain offences, if certain conditions are met. Generally, a first time offender charged with a minor, non-violent crime would be an excellent candidate for Ms. Currie to negotiate such a resolution with the Crown. If an accused completes all conditions, Crown counsel will enter a stay of proceedings or withdraw the charge, which means that there will be no criminal record.
Dismissal or Stay of Proceedings
If a charge is dismissed at trial or if crown counsel (the prosecutor) decides at some time prior to trial following a meeting with your counsel to enter a stay of proceedings (terminate the charge), there will be no criminal record. Sometimes, and in certain circumstances, we can persuade crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings or withdraw the charge prior to trial. An example would be if certain evidence came to light that was not available to crown counsel at the time of the laying of the charge or we convince the Crown that there is no reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution.
Guilty Plea – with submissions for an Absolute or Conditional Discharge
If an accused person does not qualify for alternative measures, and the crown refuses to withdraw the case, it will be dealt with by the Court by either going to trial or pleading guilty. If you plead guilty, we may be successful in obtaining an absolute or conditional discharge in certain circumstances – depending upon the nature of the offence (and whether it has a minimum sentence). We must convince the Court that not only would the discharge be in your best interests, but it must also not be contrary to the public interest.
If the Court is of the opinion that a discharge is appropriate, it will, instead of convicting you, direct that you be discharged absolutely or on conditions set out in a probation order. An absolute discharge takes effect immediately and you are not considered convicted of the offence.
A conditional discharge is where the individual is placed on probation for a period of time with conditions to be met, and the discharge does not become absolute until the completion of the probation.
On occasion, crown counsel will agree to an accused person entering a peace bond when that person has been charged with a minor offence such as a minor assault, threatening, etc. The accused is placed on probation for the maximum period of one year with appropriate conditions. Usually there are conditions prohibiting or restricting the accused from contacting the complainant (victim) in the case. A peace bond is not a conviction and therefore not a criminal record.
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