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Alternatives To Criminal Records In Alberta

Avoiding a criminal record for less serious crimes is an attractive option for many people. Avoiding a criminal record benefits both the individual charge with the crime as well as society. Learn more about the Alternative Measures Program (sometimes referred to as Alt Measure or AMP) and how work. If you think this program is right for you or a loved one, call the criminal law group at Kahane Law Office in Calgary. We help ensure clients present their best case for acceptance into the program.

What Is The Alternative Measures Program

Diversion is a non-traditional court process that looks at alternative options that do not result in a criminal record. In Alberta, if you face charges considered a criminal offence, then the possibility exists that you enter into Alternative Measures Program (AMP) participation. Quite often, the Courts allow first time offenders entry into the program . In addition, the Court sometimes allows repeat offenders into the program after the passing of two years from when they previously participated in the program.

Alternative Measures Program Eligibility

In order to be eligible for AMP, the individual must take responsibility for the offence that they face the charges on. In part, this means that they acknowledge that they committed the office. The individual who faces charges needs to sign an agreement stating that they agree to take responsibility for their actions. Once approved, the individual must abide by any conditions placed on them by the Court. If a condition includes restitution, you will be required to ensure that restitution amount is paid by the deadline imposed on you.

Restitution often form part of the Alternative Measures Program in cases that include property damage or cases of fraud. While not an exhaustive list, the individual likely must complete one or more of the following:

  • Perform community service;
  • Write an apology letter;
  • Donate to a registered charity;
  • Attend counselling
  • Participate in a victim/offender reconciliation program;
  • Have probation officer supervision; and lastly
  • Any other appropriate condition.

Alt Measures Process

Once approved, the Community Corrections and Release Programs Branch contacts you for an intake interview. At that time, they explain to you the program details. Next, they initiate a program plan that also takes into consideration your work or school schedule or any other obligations in your day-to-day life.  The conditions that you are obligated to abide by should not be more onerous than what would have been imposed on you in court. The program agreement should include no more than three conditions in addition to any supervision required by a probation officer.

AMP Duration

The Alternative Measures Program usually takes approximately four months to complete. Once an individual successfully completes the program (including paying restitution), the Crown withdraws the charges against the individual. This means that the individual avoids receiving a criminal record after they finish participating in Alternative Measures Program. In other words, no criminal conviction registration against them occurs.

How Mental Health Diversion Differs From AMP?

Mental Health Diversion (MHD) is a form of diversion offered to individuals who have a diagnosed mental disorder. MHD focuses on treatment and is usually only available for individuals charged with less serious offences. At times extenuating circumstances or unique circumstances permit other more serious offences entry into the program. Above all, the individual must remember that the granting of admission into the MHD only occurs on a case-by-case basis.

Once the individual enters the program, a mental health clinician conducts an assessment that looks at the individuals mental health history and criminal record history as well. On completion of the assessment, the individual is then set up with resources specific to their healing and rehabilitative plan. MHD also takes approximately 4 months to complete.

Common Charges Applicable To AMP and MHD:

Certain criminal charges frequently get referred into the Alternative Measures Program or the Mental Health Diversion program. This list is not exhaustive.  For example, the Crown and court usually approve the following charges:

  • Theft under $5000;
  • Fraud under $5000;
  • Mischief under $5000;
  • Common Assault (not domestic in nature); and
  • Causing a disturbance.

Advantages To Avoiding Criminal Charges

If this is the first time that you face charges of a criminal offence, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. This allows the lawyer time to discuss your position with the Crown prosecutor about your unique circumstances. A criminal record potentially affects a number of things including, employment opportunities. In addition, it prevents some people from traveling outside of Canada. Lastly, for individual whom are new to Canada, a criminal record often creates major implications in continuing to stay in Canada.

Lawyers To Get You Into The Alt Measures Program

If you or a loved one face a minor criminal charge, our criminal law team works to help you avoid a criminal record. We evaluate your situation and the best approach to dealing with it in court. If appropriate, we present the rational as strongly as possible to the court to allow you to enter the Alternative Measures Program. Call us today for a consultation to see if you are eligible for AMP or MHD. Please reach out toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 (or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta), or email us directly here.