In some circumstances, people facing criminal charges in court may be referred to a rehabilitation, treatment or intervention program that is intended to address underlying problems, such as:
- drug or alcohol dependency
- mental illness
- extreme poverty.
The magistrate or judicial officer will adjourn the case while a defendant participates in the diversion program.
Other court programs provide an alternative forum for hearing a case or negotiating an outcome.
Courts with integrated treatment programs
This specialist court offers special programs to reduce reoffending by adults who are dependent on drugs.
Local Court diversion programs
A number of treatment and intervention referral programs are offered at the local court. This is a summary of the diversion programs in the local court.
Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment (CREDIT)
CREDIT is due to cease service delivery on 31 May 2017 and will be replaced by the Extra Offender Management Service (EOMS)
The EOMS will operate differently to CREDIT. It will only service offenders with a medium to high risk of reoffending.
EOMS will focus on addressing criminogenic needs, whereas CREDIT primarily provided access to support services.
Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT)
The MERIT program is available in the local court to give adult defendants with drug or alcohol problems the opportunity to undertake a voluntary rehabilitation program as part of the bail process.
People can nominate themselves or be identified by the magistrate, solicitor or police as suitable for assessment for the MERIT program.
Traffic Offender Intervention program
This program targets offenders who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of traffic offences in the local court.
The Traffic Offender Intervention program is a community-based, road safety education program. It provides offenders with the information and skills necessary to develop positive attitudes towards driving and become safer drivers.
Domestic Violence Court Intervention Model (DVCIM)
The DVCIM program operates at Wagga Wagga and Campbelltown Local Court and is an integrated criminal justice and community social welfare response to domestic violence. Where the matter is appropriate for prosecution, DVCIM provide witness preparation and ensures victim safety and support is addressed.
For more information, see the booklet: Your court, your safety: a guide to going to court to get help with domestic violence.
Forum Sentencing brings together an offender, the victim and other people affected by the crime. Forum Sentencing operates at selected NSW Local Courts and will be extended across the state over the next few years.
Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing court for adult Aboriginal offenders. It directly involves local Aboriginal people in the process of sentencing offenders, with the aims of making it more meaningful and improving confidence in the criminal justice system.