Downtown Community Court Frequently Asked Questions

How is the community court different from "regular" court?

Vancouver's Downtown Community Court differs from the traditional justice system in three main ways:

  1. The community court aims to addresses crime in a timely way so that offenders see the consequences of their behaviour and can make reparation to the community.
  2. Health and social service agencies work together in an integrated approach to manage offenders and address the underlying health and social problems that often lead to crime.
  3. The court has effective relationships with neighbourhood and community groups and creates opportunities for public participation in the court.

For more information about what makes the community court unique, visit the Community Court story page.

Reception Mural, by Joey Mallett, Rita Buchwitz  and Jerry Whitehead. The mural focuses on four words – hope, respect, voice and home – within the context of the Downtown Eastside.What types of crime are handled by this court?

Vancouver's Downtown Community Court hears cases involving most offences committed in downtown Vancouver. This includes offences such as, theft from auto, shoplifting, mischief, assault and drug possession. For more information, see the Community Court jurisdiction page.

What kinds of sentences can offenders receive?

Sentences in the community court focus on managing the offender's risk of re-offending and compensating the community for harm caused by the crime. Community court sentences range from community service to community supervision to jail time. In most cases, offenders begin serving their sentence within days of committing the offence.

What kind of community service will offenders serve?

Community service varies greatly. Examples include working in community kitchens and dining rooms, cleaning up and maintaining roadways and community gardens, sidewalks and alleys. See our page on community service for more information.

Who do I contact if I have an idea for community service?

If you have ideas for community service, please contact the court.

How can the community get involved?

  • Local organizations and businesses can work with the court to develop community service projects and opportunities for offenders to serve sentences. These projects can also help offenders gain new job skills and work experience.
  • The business community can provide employment opportunities, helping offenders make the shift towards responsibility and independence.
  • Service providers and volunteer organizations in the community can help offenders find and attend programs.

To become involved with Vancouver's Downtown Community Court, contact the court.

What is the difference between the drug court and community court?

Both courts are part of the Provincial Court of B.C.

The Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver deals only with offenders who commit crime because of an addiction, who are eligible for the drug court treatment program, and who opt into the program.

Vancouver's Downtown Community Court hears a wide variety of offences (except for the most serious ones) committed in a designated geographic area. Sentences are tailored to the offender and the offence.

How are victims supported by the Downtown Community Court?

Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court staff includes two victim service workers to assist victims of crime. The victim services workers provide support and practical assistance to victims. This may include information about the community court and the criminal justice system, emotional support, assistance with forms, safety planning and referrals. The victim services workers can also attend court with victims.

Can we get a community court in our community?

The community court is designed to address the particular problems of Vancouver's downtown. The court has been evaluated. Lessons learned from the evaluation will be applied to other areas of the criminal justice system.