In Canada, young people charged with a crime are dealt with in youth court with a special set of rules set out in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. One of the options in the Youth Criminal Justice Act for a youth dealing with a criminal charge is the extra-judicial sanctions program (EJS). It is a diversion program where the Crown prosecutor decides that instead of proceeding with a formal prosecution of the young person in court, he or she will be diverted out of the formal court process to participate in the program. If the young person successfully completes the program, the criminal charges against will be withdrawn.
The EJS program is only available to young people who have been charged with a crime, and who have made an application to the Crown prosecutor for entry into the program. Section 10 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act sets out when the EJS program is available. There are seven conditions that must be satisfied before a young person can enter into the program. The conditions are:
- There is a program set up for EJS in the province the young person resides;
- The Crown is satisfied that it is appropriate to deal with the charge through EJS considering the needs of the young person and the interests of society;
- The young person fully and freely consents to participate in the program;
- Before consenting, the young person has been advised of his or right to be represented by a lawyer and has been given a reasonable opportunity to consult with a lawyer;
- The young person accepts responsibility for the act or omission that forms the basis of the criminal charge;
- The Crown believes they have sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the offence; and
- The prosecution of the charge is not otherwise barred by law.
In order to participate in the program, the young person has to apply to the Crown. A lawyer can help them do this. They will have to fill out some paperwork and provide it to the Crown in court. The court date is usually adjourned for the Crown to decide whether the young person is eligible for the program. If they are approved, at the next court date, the judge will adjourn the matter for a few months to allow the young person to complete the program. At that final court date, if all of the requirements of the program have been satisfied, the charges against the young person will be withdrawn.
For young persons with no criminal history, most minor criminal offences will be eligible for the EJS program including things like shoplifting (theft under $5000), minor damage to property (mischief under $5000), and some minor assaults. More serious offences like assaults where someone was seriously hurt, robbery, or other violent crimes are not usually eligible but a lawyer may be able to make a case to the Crown about why your matter should be diverted through EJS. It is important to contact a lawyer if your child has been charged with a crime to see if he or she might be eligible for the EJS program.
If the young person is approved for the EJS program, they will be contacted by the Program and directed to complete certain actions. This can include things like an apology letter, community service hours, or other more creative outcomes determined after meeting with the young person. If they successfully complete the program, the charges against them will be withdrawn.
HIRING A LAWYER
Although EJS is a very good outcome, it does require the young person to admit responsibility for the act underlying the criminal charge. This admission of responsibility cannot be used against them in criminal or civil proceedings against the young person, but a record of the young person’s participation in the EJS program will remain available for two years. This is why it is important to seek legal advice before deciding to participate in the EJS program. Please contact one of our lawyers at Pringle Law for a free consultation if you have any questions about the EJS program.