If I break the law will I always be charged by the police and go through the court?
No. There are a number of other things that the police or prosecutor can use to hold you responsible for your actions. These are called Extrajudicial Measures.
What are Extrajudicial Measures?
What can happen to me instead of being charged?
Before charging you a police officer must consider whether it would be appropriate in the situation to give you a warning or a caution (some places may have special caution programs), or if you agree send you to a community program that will help you to stop committing offences.
What would make a warning, caution or referral appropriate?
If the warning, caution or referral would be a good way of holding you responsible for what you have done wrong; if dealing with the problem right away would be better than the long court process for getting you to change your behaviour; if you are able to repair any harm you’ve done through a warning, caution, or referral; if this allows the community and the victim to be involved in dealing with harmful behaviour of young people. These will usually be used for minor offences.
Is it only the police who can caution someone?
What if a warning, caution or referral would not be a good way of holding me responsible?
Then there are other Extrajudicial Sanctions that may be used instead of charging you. These may be used only if a warning, caution or referral is not enough to hold you responsible because the offence is too serious, or you have a record of too many other serious offences.
What are Extrajudicial Sanctions?
A sanction is a consequence or a punishment. An extrajudicial sanction means that you will get some punishment for your actions, but you will not go through the court system. You will not be punished by a judge. If you have already been charged by the police you may have to appear in court once. If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to complete the program as the consequence for your action. The program will be much quicker than going through the court process.
When might I get an extrajudicial sanction?
- there is a program where you live;
- the police or the crown attorney thinks that the program is the right thing for you and for the interests of the community;
- you are told all about the program and you freely agree to participate;
- you have been given a chance to consult with a lawyer;
- you are willing to accept responsibility for what the police say you have done wrong; and
- there is a real case against you, and you could otherwise be brought to trial through the court system.
When would I NOT get an extrajudicial sanction?
- you deny being involved in the offence;
- you want to have a trial in court; or
- you are not admitted into the program.
In these situations, your case will remain in the court system.
If I agree to participate in an extrajudicial sanctions program, what will I have to do?
You may be asked to do some kind of community service, participate in a conference, write an essay or letter of apology, go to workshops, do a mediation, or perhaps do something else that would be relevant to you or the offence.
What if I complete all the conditions of the program?
Then any charge that has been laid against you will be dismissed and you will not have to return to court on this matter.
What if I only complete some of the conditions of the program?
The crown attorney could still bring the matter back to the court, and the judge may or may not dismiss the charges against you depending on the circumstances. The closer you have come to completing the program the more likely the charges will be dismissed. The more it is your own fault you did not complete the program, the less likely it is that the charges will be dismissed.