Alternatives Measures is not a defence per se; it is a diversion program that if successfully completed, results in no criminal record. This program provides a second chance for first-time offenders.
An accused generally only qualifies for Alternative Measures if he or she has been charged with a minor offence. An example of a minor criminal offence is petty theft (shoplifting), mischief or causing a disturbance. Some low level assaults qualify for admission into the program.
Alternative Measures is sometimes referred to as AMP (or Alternative Measures Program). AMP requires an accused to “take responsibility” for the offence, but not to plead guilty. "Taking responsibility" means that by entering the program, there is no finding of guilt and thus no conviction. Completion of Alternative Measures does not result in a criminal record. By taking responsibility, the accused can enter the Alternative Measures Program, complete its conditions (such as a donation or community service hours) and have the criminal charges withdrawn.
It is important to understand, ONLY the Crown can agree to place an accused in Alternative Measures. If the Crown denies entry into the program, there is no other way to gain admission; meaning that defence counsel cannot argue to a judge for admission into Alternative Measures. Even if a Prosecutor agrees to permit an accused to participate in Alternative Measures, program coordinators can deny entry and remit the accused back to be dealt by the Courts.
Once entered into the Program, the criminal charges are adjourned for approximately 4 months to permit the accused to complete the program. Once successfully completed, the Crown will “withdraw” the charges If the program is not successfully completed, the Crown will simply prosecute the case using the normal channels in the Criminal Justice System.
Alternative Measures is a very favourable resolution because it saves legal fees and guarantees (if successfully completed), no criminal record. It is for this reason that David Chow almost always recommends Alternative Measures when it is offered. David Chow has been a Calgary criminal lawyer practicing in jurisdictions throughout the Province long enough to know that there are simply no guarantees in criminal justice. As a Judge once said: "the facts of the case might be in your favour; the law might be in your favour; you might have a strong, well researched argument, but if you can't convince your judge you won't win". This astute remark is a true reminder that criminal justice is a human system, packed with human frailty.
David Chow is a full service Alberta criminal lawyer who serves client's throughout Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Call for a free telephone consultation.
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