General alternative measures program for adults
The Criminal Code provides for the application of alternative measures, in certain cases, instead of the usual court proceedings.
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 has been established at the Court of Québec in the cities of Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Joliette. It will cover an 18-month period from September 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019, with a view to making the Program accessible throughout Québec after that time.
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, and a complete list of the offences concerned is available for viewing.
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 community, such as service or work for the community;
- reparation to the victim, such as participation in mediation sessions or the payment of financial compensation;
- awareness-raising or treatment measures, such as participation in psychological counselling therapy.