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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses the use of the Extrajudicial Measures (EJM) and Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJS) programs in dealing with youth who are in conflict with the Justice System for minor offences. The program is an alternative to the formal court process and helps the young person avoid a Youth Criminal Record. Youth who are eligible under the Youth Criminal Justice Act are between the ages of 12 up to 18 years.
If a young person commits a relatively minor offence, that young person may be referred to the EJM or EJS program by the investigating Police Officer or the Youth Crown Prosecutor. However, not every offending young person or every offence is eligible for the program. The offence committed must be an eligible offence; the young person hasn’t been referred twice in a two year time period, accepts responsibility for the offence, fully and freely agrees to participate and has been advised of their legal right to counsel. Once your eligibility is determined, the police or the Crown prosecutor will decide whether to recommend you for the program. The young person may have been referred to EJS once before, but no more than twice in a two year time period. Sentencing is progressive; therefore, a young person who commits an offence for the first time may be referred to the EJM program. If the young person re-offends a second time and is eligible they would be referred as an EJS.
Extrajudicial Measures is a program offered in the City of Calgary through the “Gateway” program. This is facilitated by the City of Calgary Youth Probation and is for youth who have never committed an offence but have committed an eligible offence for the first time. This is a direct referral from the Police Officer to the supervising Probation Officer without Crown approval. The next type of referral is Extrajudicial Sanctions. There are two types: one is called a Pre-Charge; meaning a charge in the balance and can be laid if the young person fails to comply with the conditions of the program. The second is called a Post-Charge. This is a charge laid by the investigating officer and the young person receives a court date. The young person attends court and is considered for the EJS program as a Post-Charge by the Crown Prosecutor. Following the completion of the program the young person will have a return court date to prove they have completed the program and the charge will be withdrawn. If a young person fails to complete the conditions of the program, the Crown Prosecutor may follow through with the prosecution of the offence.
The program accepts youths accused of all but the most serious offences. Crimes involving violence, damage or unrecovered property over $5,000, alcohol related driving offences or serious drug offences are not eligible offences for the EJM or EJS program. Other offences such as theft under $5,000, mischief to property, possession of stolen property, in a motor vehicle without consent, causing a disturbance, simple assault, and simple possession of marijuana may be referred if there is no violence or other serious circumstances involved. You have to accept responsibility for your actions or you are not eligible for the program. If a young person doesn’t accept responsibility or feels they are not guilty of the offence, they have the right to be seen before a Youth Court Judge. If you have not been referred to the program and believe you are eligible you should consult with a lawyer. A lawyer may assist you in getting into the program.
Once you are referred to alternative measures, you will be contacted by a Probation Officer or a Youth Justice Committee Member and asked to attend an intake meeting. The meeting is to determine whether you accept responsibility for the offence and whether your consent is freely and voluntarily given. Conditions of the agreement will be discussed and you will receive from one up to a maximum of three conditions that must be completed by a certain date as a way of dealing with the offence.
Your decisions are put in writing on a formal agreement that you must fulfil. Some of the conditions for example, are, make a personal or written apology to the victim; do personal or community service work; provide compensation or monetary restitution to the victim; attend counselling or participate in a group. Meeting with the victim can be part of the Victim Young Offender Reconciliation Program where you hear the victim talk about the offence, how it happened, and how it affected everyone involved.
You have generally 3 to 4 months to complete the conditions you agree to. During that time, you must report to a probation officer or a Youth Justice Committee. Once the program requirements are met, you meet one more time with the PO or YJC to provide proof of conditions completed. If the PO or YJC is satisfied you have met the conditions of the program, they will recommend the charge against you be dropped or withdrawn. The record that you attended the EJM or EJS program will be kept for 2 years after you complete the program, but you will have no youth criminal record. If you do not complete the program requirements successfully within 3 months, the Crown prosecutor will proceed with the charge against you and your case will be heard in court. If you are found guilty, you will receive a Youth Sentencing Order and risk having a Youth Criminal Record. You should speak to your Probation Officer or Youth Justice Committee and tell them your reasons if you are having difficulty completing the tasks assigned.