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A positive alternative for Toronto juveniles facing charges

Most parents and law enforcement authorities in Toronto know and understand that mistakes are part of growing up and could be important tools in the development of responsible adults. However, the manner in which they react to mistakes and treat the offender may determine a positive or negative outcome. You likely understand that crimes cannot go unpunished, but nobody would want you to pay for a misdemeanour for the remainder of your life.

If you were involved in a minor crime like theft, you might have a myriad of problems if police treat it as a more serious crime such as robbery. However, it may be helpful to learn that the Toronto Police Service recently launched the Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program, which will offer young offenders the opportunity to take part in a program that could guide them away from crime, rather than the traditional method of prosecution.

Goals of the Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program

According to Toronto police, this program will focus on young individuals who face minor charges, hoping to guide them to make better choices in the future. If you have the opportunity to be involved in the program after your arrest, you will have to give your consent to take part, and then you must complete the program -- or face potential charges for the alleged crime. The goals of the program include the following:

  • To lower the number of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system and the high number of re-entries after release from their first incarcerations.
  • To utilise the information gained to improve the program over time and to serve as a positive influence on many young people who might have otherwise ended up facing future charges.
  • To use the framework of non-oppression to increase the resilience of the youth who enter the program.
  • To create positive stimuli in a teenager's life as a means of turning a negative into a positive for a productive outcome through referral and mentorship.
  • To provide counselling that will equip young people who experience conflicts with the law with the means to break the criminal behaviour cycle -- possibly before they enter a spiral of crime.
  • To provide a tipping point at the time of the first charge when community service and positive contact with the community may shift the scales toward acceptance of responsibility.
  • To identify the need for programs such as anger management and counselling for drug and alcohol dependency, and then offer those programs when deemed necessary.

Whether the charges you face are relatively minor or more serious, you probably have many questions regarding your rights during this challenging time, including whether or not the diversion program could apply to your case. You are entitled to obtain legal counsel to help explain your rights and provide you with guidance toward the best possible outcome for your circumstances.

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