Under 18? First-time offender? Call LAO’s toll-free Young Person’s Diversion Program hotline to learn your legal options
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) supports a toll-free young person’s diversion program hotline for young persons accused of a non-violent crime and their parents, to inform them about what to expect in the criminal justice system, including their chances of avoiding jail through alternative programs.
“In 2012, 348 people called, mostly young people and parents unfamiliar with the court system."
Police officers who arrest young people on federal minor non-violent charges (such as vandalism or theft under $5000) usually advise them about this service. The police also include hotline information in the Notice to Parent form they are required to serve all parents or guardians of people younger than 18 who have been charged with a crime.
Callers get an automated message that provides details about how the criminal justice system works for people aged 17 or younger, including:
- an explanation of what to expect and do when required to go to court
- an explanation of how young people can have their charges dropped if they comply with the terms of “extra-judicial sanctions” such as community work, a written apology or training and treatment
- the option to leave a message for an LAO duty counsel, who will return the call and provide 20 minutes of free summary legal advice.
“In 2012, 348 people called, mostly young people and parents unfamiliar with the court system,” says Riyad Bacchus, Director of the Legal Assistance Division of Sykes Assistance Services, which runs this service for LAO.
“The hotline helps educate and reassure them on what happens in court, which means the Crown and duty counsel don’t have to take as much time to explain the process and the options available. And that makes things go a lot more smoothly for all parties.”
Call LAO’s Young Person’s Diversion Program hotline at 800-265-0451 or 800-561-2561.
For questions or further information, please contact: