COMMUNITY SUPPORT COURT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Answer: CSC is a specialized criminal court which is for adults with mental health and/or substance use issues and/or intellectual impairment. CSC is an opportunity for people, even if you have had many encounters with the police and courts, to have a chance to enter into a treatment plan so that we can assist you to become stabilized and supported within the community.
What is a treatment plan? Who decides what the treatment plan looks like?
Answer: The treatment plan (CTIP) refers to the goals decided by you and your case manger as well as recommendations that will be made by others involved in the process, namely the Multi –Disciplinary Team (e.g. case manager). The CTIP will be specific to you and your needs and may include:
- being assessed by a psychiatrist,
- taking medications as required,
- attending group sessions,
- addictions/mental health services, treatment, urinalysis and
- community service hours.
This plan will be established and agreed upon by you prior to your acceptance into the program.
What is a case manager?
Answer: A case manager is the person who will help you follow your treatment plan. The case managers involved with the CSC program include staff from the following agencies: Canadian Mental Health Association, Four Counties Addictions Services, and The Elizabeth Fry Society. If you are working with a case manager from a different agency, that person can continue working with you.
How do I join the Community Support Court?
Answer: A family member, friend, lawyer or community agency can refer you to CSC. But you must get permission from the Crown Attorney to attend and make sure that you qualify.
Referral forms may be requested through the Crown’s office at the court house (70 Simcoe Street).
What charges fall within the criteria for Community Support Court?
Answer: Most charges are eligible for CSC.
What charges do not fall within the criteria for Community Support Court?
Answer: Non eligible offences for CSC are:
- home invasions,
- drinking and driving,
- sexual offences,
- offences against children and
- trafficking in drugs for commercial gain
- firearms offences
How is Community Support Court different?
Answer: CSC is a problem-solving court. Rehabilitation is the primary focus. Mental illness, intellectual impairment and or substance use must be at the heart of the criminal behaviour. CSC focuses on you as a whole and works with you to assist you based on your needs. The goal is that you become stable within the community and access the services/supports you need for the future, which in turn will reduce your contact with police and the courts and the likelihood of you re-offending (recidivism).
How is Community Support Court different from the diversion program?
Answer: CSC differs from the regular court diversion program for the following reasons;
- you must be facing minimum 90 days custodial sentence, (jail time)
- you must plead guilty
- findings of guilt will be added to your criminal record,
- the treatment plan is more intensive,
- you must go to court regularly (every first and third Friday of each month),and
- if you successfully complete and graduate the Crown and your lawyer will ask that you not go to jail. However, the Judge will have the final decision.
Do I need a lawyer to be in Community Support Court?
Answer: Yes, and if you don’t have a lawyer, duty counsel will be there to help you.
We always recommend that you should get legal advice before you make a decision about participating in CSC.
Do I have to plead guilty to be in Community Support Court?
Answer: Yes. If you want to plead not guilty, you should not apply to CSC.
If I am in custody (jail), can I still be in Community Support Court?
Answer: No, but you can apply while you are in custody. You can only be accepted however, if you are released into the community.
Will I have to give urine samples and stop using drugs or alcohol?
Answer: If you are charged with a drug offence, drug/alcohol use was involved in the offence or you voluntarily want to stop using drugs or alcohol, you will be required to give urine samples and stop using all non-medically prescribed drugs and alcohol for the last three months of your CSC program. This will be part of your treatment plan. If you are honest about using drugs with your case manager you won’t be sanctioned if you have a dirty screen. If you cannot abstain for three months by the end of your plan, you may not successfully graduate.
How often do I have to come to court? And for how long?
Answer: You must go to court, every first and third Friday of each month. If a court date is missed, a bench warrant may be issued by the Judge.
The length of time you would be enrolled in CSC depends on the Crown, the Multi-disciplinary team you are working with, and your progress. You will be in the program for a minimum of 6 months and up to 18 months. You are finished court when you receive your sentence.
What are sanctions? What are incentives?
Answer: Sanctions refer to consequences which will be imposed if you are not compliant with your CTIP.
Examples of Sanctions
• Reprimand from the Judge
• Watching and reporting on a treatment oriented video assigned by the court
• Essays/book reports on treatment related issues identified in your CTIP
• Community service
• Curfew restrictions
• Added time to probation
• Termination of the program
Incentives refer to rewards for positive behaviour (i.e., continuing to attend appointments, sobriety, completion of a program, etc.).
Examples of Incentives:
• Gift certificates
• Less restrictive supervision/bail conditions/ urinalysis testing
What is the end result of Community Support Court?
Answer: If you successfully complete the CTIP and graduate, the Crown will ask the Judge that you not go to jail, but be on probation instead. But remember, the Judge does have the final say.
Most importantly…… you will make an effort to make changes in your life and recognize the importance of continuing to do so. You will have options and a support system that you may not have had before… use them to your advantage. We do not want you to commit further criminal offences.
Assessment: To gather information about your history, this may include mental health and substance use, or intellectual impairment.
Case Manager: The person who monitors your progress during the program to make sure that all CSC requirements are satisfied.
Confidentiality: The requirement not to discuss specific names and personal information learned during treatment and court sessions with anyone outside of the treatment group or court.
Defense Attorney/Duty Counsel: A lawyer who may provide you with information and legal advice. They may also represent you in court.
Crown Attorney/Federal Prosecutor:A lawyer who is responsible for prosecuting your case.
Judge: The judicial officer who directs court each time you attend and talks with you about your efforts. The Judge will make the final decisions about the court process and sentence.
Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT): The group of professionals, including the Judge, Provincial/Federal Crown, Psychiatrist, Mental Health service provider, Addiction service provider, Probation and your community case manager that provide both legal and treatment oversight of your case.
Drug Testing: Where applicable you may be asked to provide weekly drug urine screens to assist with your treatment plan. Any failures to test or diluted drug tests will be considered positive drug tests by the MDT.
Incentives: Incentives refer to rewards for positive behaviour.
Sanctions: Sanctions refer to consequences which will be imposed if an individual is not compliant with their CTIP.
Community Treatment Intervention Plan (CTIP): The CTIP refers to the goals established by you and your case manager in consultation with the MDT.The CTIP will be specific to you and may include being assessed by a psychiatrist, taking medications as required, attending group sessions, addictions services/treatment, and community service hours. This plan will be established and agreed upon by you prior to final acceptance into the program.