What is diversion for youth crimes?
Question & AnswerWhat is diversion for youth crimes?
Diversion is a word people use to talk about taking criminal charges out of the court and dealing with them in a more informal way. That means dealing with your charges without having a or pleading guilty. This allows you to take responsibility for your actions without going through the formal court system. In the youth criminal justice system this is called Extrajudicial Measures (EJM), Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJS), or informal diversion.
If you participate in EJM, EJS, or informal diversion, your court case is put on hold while you:
- attend a program
- take a course, or
- complete other tasks away from the court
These tasks help you take responsibility for your actions and show your interest in making things better. Once you finish your program, course, or other tasks, your court case will be closed.
The police or the Crown can offer you EJM or informal diversion. The police can offer it before they you with a crime, and the Crown can offer it after the police charge you.
Only the Crown can offer you EJS, and only after the police charge you. EJS is the most serious type of diversion.
As a young person, if the police believe you committed a crime, they must consider offering you EJM or diversion instead of charging you. Even if they charge you, the Crown can offer you EJM, EJS, or informal diversion later when your case gets to court.
If the Crown or police offer you EJM, EJS, or informal diversion, you do not have to accept it. You have a right to speak to a lawyer before you make a decision. For EJS you must speak to a lawyer before you make a decision. You should speak to a lawyer who has experience in youth criminal justice.
Indigenous youth diversion
If you're Indigenous, you may be able to access Indigenous diversion programs. Indigenous diversion is only available in some courts.
These programs are designed in a way that respects your Indigenous culture. They use Indigenous justice principles to help you take responsibility, and to heal and repair harm.
Talk to your lawyer, , or the Indigenous court worker about Indigenous diversion. It's possible to enter into diversion from and not go for .
Get legal help
If you're charged with a crime, it's best to get help from a lawyer. Look for a lawyer with experience in youth criminal justice.
You may qualify for a legal aid certificate from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) for a free lawyer. If LAO tells you that you don't qualify for a certificate, in some cases a judge can still order LAO to give you a certificate.
You can also contact Justice for Children and Youth for free legal help.