2. Find out if you're offered diversion

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Criminal Law - Going to criminal court

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What happens on my first court date for a criminal offence?
This question has an answer and 4 steps

2. Find out if you're offered diversion

On your first court date, the Crown may offer you diversion, also called direct accountability.

This means the Crown may be willing to withdraw the charges, if you:

  • do a certain number of community service hours, or
  • get some counselling about the behaviour that led to the offence.

If the Crown is willing to offer you diversion, they will tell you. You can discuss the offer with your lawyer or duty counsel.  

You can also ask the Crown for diversion, but they decide whether to offer it to you.

Finding a program

You may need time to think about the offer. You do not have to decide right away.

If you decide that you want to participate in the diversion program, your case will be held down for a short period. The court has not finished with your case.  The court is giving you time to go to the diversion office in the courthouse and meet with a diversion court worker. You must not leave the courthouse until your case is officially adjourned.

The diversion court worker will help you find a program that you can participate in. They will also tell you what date to adjourn your case to.


When you get an adjournment date from the diversion court worker, go back to the courtroom. Wait for the Crown to call your name again. Tell the court the date you want your case adjourned to.

The court may give you a written reminder of the date and time of your next appearance. But you're responsible for writing down your court dates and going to court on those dates. Once you have a date, you can leave the courthouse.

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Reviewed: November 20, 2017

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