Overview of Downtown Community Court Process
When an accused person arrives at the community court, they are met by the court's defence lawyer. The accused can choose to work with their own lawyer instead, if they have one.
After discussing the case with defence counsel, the accused can agree to resolve their case in the community court or, after appearing before the community court judge once, dispute the case and proceed with a trial in a mainstream court.
Triage team interview
If the accused agrees to work to resolve their case in the community court, they are asked to consent to an interview with a member of a triage team. Triage teams are made up of people who work with the community court, and generally include representatives from probation, health and social services, and housing. Where the offender is Aboriginal, the offender will be interviewed by the native courtworker.
The interview will provide information so that the team can understand the accused's circumstances and needs, and develop a plan for consideration by the judge.
In straightforward cases, the plan may simply be a recommendation that the offender attend health or drug treatment information sessions or a referral for housing, income assistance or health care.
More complex cases may require in-depth assessments by mental health, addiction and other professionals working with the court, and their recommendations could include, for example, drug rehabilitation or mental health treatments.
In complex cases, a case management team may be assigned to make sure the offender follows through with recommendations in the intervention plan.
Information given to judge at sentencing
All of the relevant information, including victim impact information, is presented to the judge at the time of sentencing. The judge considers it and renders an appropriate sentence in relation to the severity of the crime, the offender's history, as well as addressing, where possible, the reasons the offender was involved in criminal activity.
The sentence could range from community service, to compensate the community for harm done by the crime, to jail time. In most cases, offenders begin community service immediately after the court's decision.