Resolutions to Avoid a Criminal Record

Although conventional options for a person charged with an offence are to plead either guilty or not guilty, there are several other options you should be aware of. Quite often the lowest forms of offences, such as mischief, theft, fraud, possession of stolen property, assault, drug possession, etc, can be diverted out of the criminal justice system. Even more serious charges, such as criminal harassment, indecent exposure, assault police officer, etc, can sometimes be diverted in the right circumstances.  The diversion projects are meant to give individuals with no criminal record a second chance at maintaining an otherwise clean record while promoting a sense of responsibility and accountability. The discretion to divert a charge out of the criminal system lies solely with the Crown Prosecutor. In Calgary and Edmonton, there is even specialized unit of prosecutors called the Early Case Resolution (ECR) unit dedicated to reviewing cases for resolution.

For every criminal charge there is a prosecutor, and thus a chance at convincing him or her to resolve the case with no criminal record.  The importance of this process cannot be overstated. You may be surprised to know that of the thousands of successful cases our lawyers have handled, most successful results are achieved not through a hard fought trial, but rather behind the scenes in skillful negotiation with Crown Prosecutors.  Moreover, in our experience, successful results are often achieved never arguing the law at all, but rather appealing to reason, pragmatism, and compassion of the Prosecutor on the case.  Through decades of collective experience we have come to know virtually all the prosecutors we might come in contact with, and what may be important from the prospective of the prosecution. In each and every case we carefully assess the prosecutor and the facts at hand, and custom tailor our presentation accordingly.

The following are the most common types of resolution options that result in no criminal record:

Each set of facts and every person charged with an offence is a little different from the rest, so it is important to obtain a legal opinion to determine if your particular circumstances fit the criteria for diversion out of the criminal justice system  Please read on below for a more thorough description of the various resolution options available.

Alternative Measures Program (Federal and Provincial) – How to Accept Responsibility for your Actions without getting a Criminal Record

The Alternative Measures Program (AMP for short) is a way for you to accept responsibility for your actions without being found guilty of anything.  In effect, the program ensures that you avoid a conviction by diverting the matter out of the criminal justice system. This means that you will not receive a criminal record for the offence, and you will be able to honestly say that you have never been found guilty nor convicted.

A requirement of AMP is that the accused person accepts responsibility for the offence. This does not mean you agree with everything that the Crown is alleging, but that you accept responsibility for what happened.  According to the provisions of the Criminal Code (s. 717), this information cannon, and will not be used against you for any purpose, except if you re-offend.

The Crown is the gatekeeper of the program, and will often need to be convinced that AMP is the most appropriate solution. If the Crown consents to AMP, I will attend court and speak to a judge in court and request that you be given enough time to complete your community service. It’s important to realize that any conditions the court has imposed on you continue to be in effect during this period. Once you have completed the community service we will provide confirmation to the Crown, and then go in front of a judge again to have your charge withdrawn. It is your choice which non-profit you wish to do community service for, but you should always make sure it’s a reputable registered charitable organization that keeps proper records and timesheets of your attendance.

It is important to understand that only some people are eligible for AMP, largely based on their record and on the offence(s) they are alleged to have committed. Section 717 of the Criminal Code gives us some information on who is eligible for AMP. First offenders are eligible for AMP for most summary conviction offences and even some indictable offences. Second offenders may be eligible if two years have passed since their last conviction or AMP community service. AMP is generally not available for serious violent offences, offences using a firearm, domestic violence, criminal harassment, or offences where the victim is a child. AMP is available for minor Federal charges as well, such as possession of a controlled substance.

Contact us today if you think you may be eligible for AMP. We will make every effort to convince the Crown on your behalf that you are good fit for the program.

Alternative Measures Program (AMP) FAQs

  1. What is the adult alternative measures program?
  2. How can I get my charges diverted to the alternative measures program?

Youth Extra Judicial Sanctions

This program is essentially the same as the Alternative Measures Program, but is designed specifically for young offenders (person’s accused of an offence who are under 18 years of age).  The legislation that governs this procedure the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  Typically, the Crown Prosecutors will have more latitude to divert matters into the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program because the main goal in dealing with young offenders is rehabilitation, rather than punishment.  The conditions of the Extra Judicial Sanctions may include things like an apology letter, or an essay about the harm caused.

As with the Alternative Measures Program, the discretion to divert you into the program lies with the Crown, so it is important to get legal advise to make sure you put forth all relevant information to give you the best chance possible of entering the program.

Mental Health Diversion – How to get Treatment for a Mental Disorder Instead of a Criminal Record

Since 2004, the mental health diversion program has been available in Calgary, and quickly spread to Edmonton and most major centers throughout Alberta to ensure that adults and adolescents with a mental illness who are charged with minor low-risk offences receive care and treatment instead of being prosecuted by the criminal justice system. The diversion program is a positive step that helps to address the increasing criminalization of people with mental illness. Accused persons accepted into the program most commonly suffer from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders as well as mood, adjustment and anxiety disorders. Often a client’s mental illness is made worse by a drug or alcohol addiction. If found eligible for diversion, an individual receives community-based treatment that focuses on the specific mental health, life skill issues, and addictions that may have contributed to the offence.

The diversion program is available for individuals charged with less serious offences where there is a reasonable belief that a person is suffering from a mental disorder.  Such offences include things like: theft, fraud, mischief, assault, obstructions, public intoxication.  Sometimes, even more serious offences like break and enter, assault of a police officer, or even various forms of domestic violence can be referred to the program, but this requires unique circumstances and a careful assessment by a criminal defence lawyer.

A mental disorder is a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory. Our role as criminal defence lawyers is to convince the Crown that a client may suffer from a mental illness and would benefit from treatment instead of being prosecuted and convicted. Once the Crown gives his or her consent, health care workers complete an evaluation. If an accused person meets the internal criteria of the program, a three month court extension will be allotted to complete the treatment.  We then go to court for a client and ask for a three month adjournment while they receive treatment. After those three months, if treatment has been completed, we again attend court and ask that the charges be withdrawn.

It is our job as a criminal defence lawyers to pursue any and all defences available. If you have been charged with a criminal offence and think you may be eligible for the diversion program, please call us. Barring unforeseen circumstances if you retain us and successfully complete the mental health diversion program, your charges will be withdrawn.

Mental Health Diversion (MHD) FAQs

  1. What is mental health diversion (MHD)?
  2. How can I get mental health diversion?

Peace Bonds – How to Resolve Domestic Violence and Similar Charges Without a Criminal Record

A peace bond is a criminal court order that sets out specific conditions to protect the safety of others or property. A judge can order that a peace bond be imposed if there is a reasonable fear that a person will cause personal injury to another person, their family, or their property. Section 810 of the Criminal Code allows a peace bond to be imposed, much like that of a restraining order. A peace bond is a more serious form of restraining order because breaching the conditions may result in criminal charges. Breaching a peace bond can also result in a financial penalty, where the accused ends up owing the government a substantial fee.

For accused persons charged with family/domestic violence offences where there has not been serious injury, a peace bond is very often the best possible outcome. If a Crown consents to doing a peace bond, the criminal charge will be withdrawn. Preventing a criminal record is the most beneficial result that we seek for our clients. While a peace bond may show up on certain kinds of “enhanced” police background checks (for example, a “vulnerable persons check”), it is not entered into the national criminal record database. This means that the client can honestly say they have never been found guilty, and have never been convicted and have not received a criminal record. Peace bonds do not require the accused to plead guilty.  The only legally binding criteria is that there is a reasonable fear that an offence may be committed.

A peace bond will only be available where the Crown consents. It is important to have a criminal defence lawyer to convince the Crown that it is “not in the public interest” to proceed with the charges. When deciding whether to agree to a peace bond, the Crown will consider whether the offence involved a serious injury, whether there is a substantial history of abusive behavior against the victim, the accused’s criminal record, whether the accused will admit what happened, and what conditions will be appropriate.  Typically, only simple assaults will be eligible for a peace bond.  Under the right circumstances, however, and with proper legal representation, even more serious offences can result in peace bonds.  As criminal defence lawyers in Calgary, Edmonton, and surrounding areas we have had success securing peace bonds for the following offence types:

  • Simple assault
  • Domestic assault, including chocking and hair pulling
  • Domestic assault causing bodily harm
  • Domestic assault with a weapon
  • Unlawful confinement
  • Threats in a domestic context
  • Criminal harassment
  • Possession of child pornography

A peace bond generally lasts between 6 and 12 months. The main condition of a peace bond requires that a client “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” The length and specific conditions of a peace bond are based on a case-by-case basis and it is important that you have a criminal defence lawyer to negotiate these with the Crown. Conditions may include the following:

  • having no contact with the victim(s),
  • not attending the victim’s home or workplace (also called a “no go” condition),
  • a prohibition on carrying firearms or weapons,
  • not to purchase or consume alcohol,
  • not to attend establishments where the primary business is the sale of alcohol, and
  • counselling requirements.

The conditions of a peace bond can be changed over time if you have a lawyer willing to make that application before a judge.

To find out whether your case is eligible for a peace bond resolution please contact our office for a free consultation.  It is important to get legal advise regarding your case as soon as possible to receive advise not only on the merits of your case, but also on what you can do to maximize your chances of receiving a peace bond resolution.

Peace Bonds FAQs

  1. What is a peace bond?
  2. How will a peace bond affect my criminal record?
  3. What are the different types of peace bonds in canada?
  4. What conditions will I have if I sign a peace bond?
  5. How can I remove a peace bond?

Speak With A Lawyer

Receive a free consultation
to discuss your case.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We value your privacy,
all information is kept strictly confidential.

What’s Next

Schedule a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.

Book A Free Consultation

Michael answered his phone at 10 o’clock at night and he and his associate helped us navigate the intimidating criminal justice system over the next 72 hours. They were available to us 24/7, clearly explained our options at each step and answered all of our questions promptly. It felt like having a guardian angel watching over us. If you have a criminal matter that you need assistance with, this is the man you need to contact.

starS.

VIEW ALL REVIEWS

I was charged with assault for a minor scuffle. I knew I was in good hands with Michael’s solid legal advice and preparation for my pending case. Because of his knowledge, advice and legal expertise, all charges were dropped. Michael and his team take pride in providing not only the right result, but quality customer service along the way. I heartily recommend Michael Oykhman to anyone seeking legal counsel!

starN.P.

VIEW GOOGLE REVIEWS

Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

Successful Case Results

Break and Enter, Theft Under $5000, Possession of Break-In Instruments, Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose, Charges Withdrawn

Airdrie Provincial Court
Case Number: 23500891

Our client was facing a number of serious criminal charges after it was alleged that he had broken into a home and had stolen a number of items.

Upon being retained we immediately sought disclosure, including a fingerprint analysis. We determined that the identification of our client as the accused could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

We negotiated with the Crown and they withdrew all of the charges.

Successful Result: Charges Withdrawn

Domestic Assault, Charge Withdrawn

Airdrie Provincial Court
Case Number: 7620521

Our client was charged with assault against his ex-wife. He was also served with an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) that contained several serious allegations.

Once we were retained we immediately sought disclosure and began resolution discussions with the Crown. We found several extreme discrepancies between the allegations in the EPO and what the complainant told police. We used this to challenge the complainant’s credibility, and the assault charge was withdrawn weeks after our client’s first court appearance.

Successful Result: No Criminal Record, Charge Withdrawn

Impaired Driving and Over .08, Charges Withdrawn

Calgary Provincial Court
Case Number: 7519721

Our client drove through a checkstop, indicated he had some drinks that evening, and was noted to have glassy mirrored eyes and a smell of alcohol on his breath.  He failed the roadside breath test, blew .140 on the evidentiary instrument, and was charged with impaired driving and driving over .08.

Once we were retained, we set the matter for trial and filed a motion alleging a violation of our client’s Constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Days before trial, we successfully negotiated the withdrawal of all charges.

Successful Result: No Criminal Record, Charges Withdrawn
VIEW ALL CASES

Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.