General alternative measures program for adults
Under the Program, adult offenders charged with certain criminal offences can take responsibility for their actions and settle the dispute that brought them into the justice system, following an alternative route that does not involve the usual court proceedings prescribed by the Criminal Code.
Various alternative measures can be applied to help offenders become aware of the consequences of their actions and play an active role in compensating for the harm they have caused. The Program is also designed to reduce the likelihood than an offender will return before the justice system.
A pilot project for the Program was in operation at the Court of Québec in the cities of Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Joliette from September 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019. Province-wide deployment has begun, and the Program is now available in 18 out of 36 judicial districts. It will be available in all districts by March 31, 2021.
Eligibility for the Program
To be eligible for the Program, an offender must meet certain conditions:
- the charge concerns an offence included in the Program;
- the offender acknowledges responsibility for the actions leading to the charge;
- the offender is willing to cooperate with respect to the alternative measures.
Various criminal offences are included in the Program.
To determine if an offender is eligible for the Program, the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney looks at various other factors, including:
- all the circumstances in which the offence was committed;
- the situation, interests and point of view of the victim;
- the offender's current situation, including his or her criminal record, and the steps he or she has already undertaken to complete rehabilitative measures;
- the interests of society;
- the offender's stated willingness to repair the harm caused to the victim;
- the prospect for rehabilitation offered by the alternative measures available, and their dissuasive effect;
- the fact that the offender's prior offences, if any, were linked to a newly-revealed and underlying problem of alcohol or drug abuse, gambling or mental health.
Examples of alternative measures
Alternative measures must be chosen to reflect the needs of the offender, the interests of society, and the interests of the victim. Various measures can be applied, including:
- reparation to the victim, such as participation in mediation sessions or the payment of financial compensation;
- reparation to the community, such as the performance of community service;
- awareness-raising or treatment measures, such as participation in psychological counselling therapy.