Criminal Law


About Site

About Jim

Contact Us


GoTo   | General Topics |  Home  


If you have no substantial youth or criminal record, if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a likely conviction, you should ask the court to refer your case to Adult Diversion for consideration.

If accepted into the program, you can avoid a criminal record.

When a criminal offence is committed by a person aged 18 or over, in the Province of Nova Scotia, the Adult Diversion Program offers a post-charge alternative to a court proceeding.

The offender must accept responsibility for his/her actions and is made aware of the harm suffered by the victim.

The victim avoids the delays of the Court process and stress of the court proceedings. Both the victim and the offender are offered an opportunity to resolve the situation in a fair and equitable manner.

Eligibility Criteria

Consideration for admission to the Program is based on:

• eighteen (18) years or older at the time of the offense;

• sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge;

• the accused accepts responsibility for the offence;

• no substantial young offender or adult record of

similar offences or recent criminal charge;

• no previous referral to Adult Diversion in the past two

(2) years

Nova Scotia information brochure.

In R. v. Boudreau, 2002 NSSC 236 (CanLII), the Nova Scotia Supreme Court reviewed the law:

[3]              Nova Scotia’s authority to create an adult diversion program is derived from s. 717 of the Criminal Code:

Alternative Measures

717.(1) When alternative measures may be used - Alternative measures may be used to deal with a person alleged to have committed an offence only if it is not inconsistent with the protection of society and the following conditions are met:

(a)  the measures are part of a program of alternative measures authorized by the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s delegate or authorized by a person, or a person within a class of persons, designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a province.

[4]              Nova Scotia has had such programs since 1996. At the direction of the Minister, these programs have consistently excluded individuals charged with spousal/partner violence including any charge of assault.  The most recent authorization was signed on March 6, 2001.  Sections 1 and 2 set out in the Program’s Objectives and Principles:


1.1       The Adult Diversion Program is a post charge pre-trial option to the criminal justice system which offers to eligible accused persons, victims and the criminal justice system an opportunity to address and resolve in an efficient and responsible manner, the accused person’s criminal behaviour with the least amount of formal court intervention.  The Adult Diversion Program provides an option which is visible, accountable and accessible to accused persons, victims and the community while repairing, to the extent possible, the harm caused by the offence.




2.1      The Adult Diversion Program is a program approved by the Attorney General for the Province of Nova Scotia, pursuant to s. 717 of the Criminal Code of Canada and is administered by the Department of Justice.

2.2      The Adult Diversion Program provides to those accused persons who are eligible, the opportunity to participate in a program of alternative measures, to be undertaken prior to the initiation of any formal Court proceedings.

2.3      Participation in the Adult Diversion Program will result in a formal agreement based on consensus between those parties involved in the diversion process which, once successfully completed, will terminate any further criminal proceedings in relation to the particular matter.

[5]              Section 8 sets out the range of alternative measures:


8.1      The range of measures which may be employed include the following:

8.1.1    community service

8.1.2   restitution/financial compensation;

8.1.3   personal service for the victim;

8.1.4   specialized education programs;

8.1.5   referral for counselling/treatment assessment;

8.1.6   charitable donation;

8.1.7   letter of apology;

8.1.8   essay

8.1.9   no further intervention; or,

8.1.10  other such reasonable measures as approved by the Department of Justice.

[6]              Section 4 sets out the exclusions:


4.2      In addition, adult diversion shall not be considered where [the allegation involves]:

... spousal/partner violence.

Jim O'Neil, LL.B.

GoTo   | General Topics  | Home |