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Criminal Charges & Alternative Measures

If the police have reason to believe you have committed a crime they can charge you with a crime. Being charged with a crime does not mean that you have been found guilty of a crime. The charges must be proven in court. Everyone is presumed to be innocent until they are proven guilty or plead guilty.

Criminal Charges

If you are charged with a crime, the police will either give you a Summons / Appearance Notice or they may have you sign a Promise to Appear, Recognizance or Undertaking.

Any of these papers will have the time, date and court location where you need to appear. It may also have a time, date and location for you to have your photograph and fingerprints taken. You must appear when required. if you fail to appear as required you can be charged with another offence.

Alternative Measures

A criminal charge does not always have to be dealt with in court. Before or after you are charged with a crime the Crown Prosecutor can decide to keep the case out of court by having it dealt with through an alternative measures program. Although the decision is made by the Crown Prosecutor you or your lawyer can ask to have your case dealt with this way. The police or the victim can also make this request.

Alternatives measures can be used only if you agree to have your case deal with this way and you accept responsibility for the offence. Some offences cannot be dealt with by Alternative Measures. These include offences involving domestic violence, offences where drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor and a number of more serious offences including any offence that involves violence to a person if it is prosecuted as an indictable offence.

Alternative measures programs are delivered by community-based non-profit agencies, First Nations, Tribal Councils and fee-for-service mediators. These programs use various methods of dealing with the case including having the victim and offender work with a trained mediator or having a community conference that involves the victim, the offender and other professionals. Successful participants will not have a criminal record for cases dealt with through alternative measures programs.

If You Must Appear in Court

  • arrive early – you will need time to go through security and find the right courtroom
  • you may be searched for security purposes and there may be a metal detector
  • do not bring things like knives that may be considered weapons
  • let the court clerk know you are there
  • be quiet
  • do not eat, drink or chew gum
  • remove your hat, unless you wear it for religious reasons
  • turn off cell phones and all electronic devices
  • don’t take pictures

When the judge arrives the clerk will announce the judge and tell everyone to stand while the judge enters...

  • if you are in Provincial Court, call the judge “Your Honour”
  • if you are in the Court of Queen’s Bench, call the judge “My Lord” or “My Lady”
  • stand up if you are talking to the judge and speak loudly enough to be heard clearly
  • do not talk to other people in the courtroom while the judge is in the courtroom
  • do not interrupt the other party, a lawyer or the judge
  • do not argue with the judge
  • do not use swear words or slang

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About PLEA

PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.