Release of Information to Third Parties by the Criminal Justice Division

Release of Information to Third Parties by the Criminal Justice Division

DATE: April 29, 2011

SUBJECT: RELEASE OF INFORMATION TO THIRD PARTIES BY THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE DIVISION

BACKGROUND:

In the course of a prosecution, Criminal Justice Division comes into possession of a great deal of information, some of which is of interest to third parties. In particular, there are often civil actions arising out of the same circumstances as criminal prosecutions, and the parties to the civil suits want information that is on the prosecution file. The purpose of this policy is to assist Crown prosecutors in responding to requests for information aside from disclosure to the accused or his counsel.

PRACTICE:

The Crown shall refuse to release any information to a third party while a prosecution is underway, except as is necessary to continue the prosecution.

The Crown shall refuse to release information on any file where we have declined to prosecute. Such information is clearly "information relating to or used in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion", and as such, its release may be refused pursuant to section 20(1)(g) of FOIP.

In relation to young offenders, the Crown will release information only in accordance with the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In relation to adult offenders, after the prosecution has been concluded, the Crown should require a formal request under FOIP before releasing any information. The only exceptions would be that the Crown may release information indicating the charges on which the offender was convicted and the sentence imposed, and may release copies of any statements given by a witness that has consented in writing to the release of his or her personal information to the person making the request. 

If there is a demand for documents in a civil action in which the Crown is not a party, pursuant to rule 209, the Crown should refuse to release documents, on the grounds that Rule 209 does not apply to the Crown.

If the Crown receives a request for documents from a party to a civil action that have been disclosed to an accused, the Crown should require notice in accordance with D.P. v. Wagg [2004] O.J. No. 2053.  

The release of any further information not covered by this policy should require a formal request for release of information under FOIP, and be dealt with in accordance with general governmental policies governing the release of information under that Act. This policy seeks to define general guidelines for the release of information in routine cases, but each case must be considered separately, and facts peculiar to a case may require exceptions to be made to the policy.

FOIP requests should be sent to: 

FOIP Office,
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
9th Floor, John E. Brownlee Building, 
10365 - 97 Street
Edmonton  Alberta  T5J 3W7