What is Indigenous Diversion?

Indigenous is available in some courts as a voluntary way to resolve minor criminal charges, often without going to or pleading guilty. You’re taken out of the criminal justice system and dealt with by an Indigenous organization or community.

Diversion involves taking responsibility for the crime you have been charged with, often by admitting your involvement.

It also requires that you participate in the community, as directed. Indigenous diversion programs are often restorative instead of punitive. This means that the programs focus on personal accountability, community accountability, and healing instead of punishment.

Like many other diversion programs, Indigenous diversion is usually available for less serious and non-violent offences. Examples include theft, not following conditions, or not showing up to court.

More serious charges are usually not allowed to go through diversion. Examples include violent crimes where there are injuries, charges, and other serious offences like drug trafficking.

You might also qualify for other diversion programs that are run by non-Indigenous organizations. Ask you lawyer or about what is available in your area and if you’re able to participate.

How diversion works

If you’re released from the police station, you can ask your lawyer or duty counsel if diversion might be an option for you at your first court appearance. If you’re being held for a , you can ask if diversion is available at any time.

Both you and the Crown must agree to diversion. In most cases, the Crown will refer your case to the Indigenous diversion program.

Courts may have different rules to complete diversion. In some cases, the Crown might ask the court to have your charges or as soon as you agree to complete your diversion. In other cases, the Crown might ask the court to have your charges stayed or withdrawn only when you show proof that you completed your diversion.

A stay or withdrawal means there is no trial or criminal conviction. And criminal charges are not added to your criminal record.

But if you get a stay, the Crown can you with the same crime within a year of the stay date. The Crown might do this if you don’t complete the terms of your diversion. If a charge is withdrawn, it’s very hard to bring it back to court, but it can happen in exceptional situations.

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