Domestic Violence Court
The Domestic Violence Court (DVC) is a therapeutic court that addresses domestic violence and offers the Domestic Violence Court Treatment Option. The DVC Treatment Option allows those who are willing to take responsibility for their actions, who elect to plead guilty, and who will receive a sentence that does not include jail time, to complete a counselling program for domestic violence and address any substance abuse problems they may have.
Individuals are not sentenced until after they have had a chance to complete the DVC Treatment Program, and if they meet the requirements of the DVC Treatment Option, individuals will receive a reduced sentence. Participation is voluntary, and individuals have the right to plead not guilty, or to choose not to participate in the DVC Treatment Option. Individuals who do not participate in the DVC Treatment Option will proceed as they would though the regular court system.
Domestic Violence Courts are located in three Saskatchewan cities:
Regina Domestic Violence Court
Every Thursday - Court room #7
Regina Provincial Court House, 1815 Smith Street
Saskatoon Domestic Violence Court
Every Tuesday - Courtroom #6
Saskatoon Provincial Court House, 220-19th Street East
Battlefords Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court
First and Third Thursday - Courtroom #3
North Battleford Provincial Court House, #3 Railway Avenue East
Defining Domestic Violence
For the purposes of the DVC, domestic violence is defined as any use of physical force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse. Abuse may include and is not limited to: physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, criminal harassment (stalking), or threats to harm children, other family members, pets and property. Additionally, charges related to the violation of bail, probation, conditional sentences or other court orders made in domestic violence cases will be referred to DVC. However, DVC does not deal with sexual assaults.
An intimate relationship can be between opposite-sex or same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality and include: current and former dating relationships, current and former common-law relationships, current and former married relationships and persons who are the parents of one or more children together (regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time).
Benefits of the Domestic Violence Court Treatment Option
The benefits of the DVC Treatment Option include, but are not limited to, the following:
- getting early treatment is a positive step towards ending the cycle of violence;
- getting help now may lead to better relations with partners and other family members;
- meeting the requirements of the DVC Treatment Option is something the judge will consider at the time of sentencing; there will be a lighter sentence with treatment than without treatment;
- there is access to professional help to deal with other issues, such as substance abuse;
- the treatment team are there for support throughout the process;
- the domestic violence programs use a variety of ways to help participants recognize and change controlling/abusive behavior; and
- the domestic violence programs recognize cultural differences and individual needs.
Who It’s For
Participation in the DVC Treatment Option is open to all adult accused who are charged with domestic violence and are referred, by the Crown, to the Domestic Violence Court Treatment Option. Participants must acknowledge responsibility for their actions by entering a guilty plea and their participation must not pose a risk to public safety. Approximately one-third of those who are charged with domestic violence will not be referred to the Domestic Violence Court because the violence involved is too repetitive and extreme, and the Crown will be seeking a significant jail term.
The following are some of the criteria considered by the Crown when determining eligibility:
- the severity of the offence;
- past compliance or non-compliance with Court orders;
- past compliance with Corrections Public Safety and Policing; and
- obvious factors that would result in a negative assessment.
The following are some of the criteria considered by probations during an assessment:
- acceptance of responsibility by the accused;
- ability of the accused to attend weekly treatment sessions for several months;
- no other charges pending that involve violence;
- programming the accused has participated in previously;
- language and other barriers; and
- psychiatric or psychological issues that would prevent participation in the program.
How It Works
The DVC Treatment Option is voluntary. To participate, individuals must:
- accept responsibility for the offence by signing an agreed statement of facts and enter a guilty plea (there is an opportunity to contact a lawyer before choosing how to deal with the charges);
- meet with Probation Services to participate in an assessment process, and make sure the DVC Treatment Option is suitable (after pleading guilty, the case will be adjourned for approximately 6 weeks to allow for this);
- waive the right to immediate sentencing and agree to abide by the terms of the program;
- agree to attend an approved treatment program, and complete domestic violence and, if needed, substance abuse programming;
- attend approximately 20 weekly sessions (generally 2 to 2 ½ hours in length), however these vary depending on the Court, Program and offender;
- agree to participate and abide by group rules and expectations;
- report back to the court as directed;
- agree that the victim can receive information about the offender's attendance and general involvement in the program;
- meet the requirements of the DVC Treatment Option.
Successful completion of treatment will be reflected in sentencing. Participants who fail to follow the treatment program will be sentenced by the court accordingly.
Non-contact and non-attendance conditions are typically put in place by police at the time an accused is charged. The non-contact and non-attendance conditions remain in place until the Court orders a change. Family Service Domestic Violence Victim Caseworkers complete risk assessments upon request for removals or amendments to non-contact and non-attendance conditions. Copies of completed risk assessments are provided to the Crown Prosecutor. The safety of victims and any children involved, not necessarily victims’ wishes, is the most important factor considered in determining risk.
Domestic Violence Court Video
Anyone interested in the DVC Treatment Option can inform either their lawyer, or the Court, and they will be referred to someone from Probation Services. Additionally, it is also possible to speak to an Aboriginal Court Worker, who will be able to provide information on what goes on in court, and who can provide additional information if required.
Regina Domestic Violence Court
Saskatoon Domestic Violence Court