Are disciplinary charges different than criminal charges?
- Kate Mitchell
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Disciplinary/institutional charges are different than criminal charges. Prisoners who commit a criminal act can be charged under the Criminal Code, and the matter would be tried in a court. Prisoners can also receive disciplinary charges, which are administrative proceedings not dealt with in court. Staff members handle minor charges, and an Independent Chairperson handles serious charges. In Disciplinary Court, witnesses can give evidence and submissions can be made by the prisoner or his/her representative.
Disciplinary offences are not included on a prisoner’s criminal record, but sanctions can still be imposed and disciplinary offences may be considered in decisions about parole, transfers, temporary absences, etc.
Prisoners can also receive criminal and disciplinary charges for the same incident. For example, a prisoner involved in an assault could be charged criminally with assault and also receive a disciplinary charge.
Prisoners can be charged with a disciplinary offence for:
- Disobeying an order from a staff member
- Being in a prohibited area
- Damaging or destroying property
- Possession of stolen property
- Disrespectful or abusive actions toward staff or any person
- Fighting, assaulting, or threatening to assault another
- Possession of or dealing in contraband or otherwise unauthorized items
- Taking an intoxicant
- Failing to or refusing to provide a urine sample upon request
- Jeopardizing the security of the institution
- Escaping or assisting another inmate to do the same
- Offering, giving, or accepting a bribe or reward
- Refusing to work or leaving work
- Disobeying a written rule
- Assisting another or attempting to assist another with a disciplinary offence
Sanctions range from a warning all the way up to placement in segregation/a Structured Intervention Unit. Prisoners facing disciplinary offences are entitled to speak to counsel and can retainer a lawyer to represent them during the hearing. If you need assistance with a disciplinary charge, contact us today.