Have you been charged with a criminal offence and want to avoid going through court? There is a way of avoiding court and resolving the matter through a form of mediation. It is called Adult Restorative Justice Conferencing or Justice Mediation.
Why justice mediation?
Justice mediation can be beneficial to both the offender and the victim in some circumstances as it allows people to own up to their crimes and accept responsibility for their actions. It can also enable offenders to take the necessary steps to rectify the harm or damage that has been caused to the victim.
Justice mediation can also provide victims with an opportunity to tell the offender how their behaviour has affected them and to ask questions to provide clarity or closure. It also allows victims to express their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
When is justice mediation used?
Justice Mediation is most commonly used for offences heard summarily (in a Magistrates Court), such as stealing, assault, fraud, wilful damage and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. It may also be used for more serious offences, depending on the situation.
In order for the process to commence, you will need to seek an adjournment and contact Police Prosecution to propose Justice Mediation and to seek the victim’s consent to participate in the process.
Justice Mediation can only be done if the victim consents. It can only occur if the offender takes responsibility for his or her actions and acknowledges that those actions have impacted the victim. If you are unable to accept responsibility and you defend your actions then Justice Mediation will be unsuccessful and you be redirected to finalise the matter through the courts.
How is justice mediation conducted?
Generally, the mediation is conducted by an accredited mediator. The mediator remains impartial and helps the parties negotiate in a way that is not hostile or confrontational. Each party may bring a support person into the meeting. Police officers and counsellors or well-respected members of society may also attend.
The goal of the conference is for the offender to enter into an agreement with the victim to repair the harm or damage caused. Sometimes victims will want an apology, compensation or for the offender to seek counselling or treatment so that their actions are not repeated in the future. Other outcomes may include a promise or undertaking that the offender will complete a specific course (for example, anger management or drug and alcohol rehabilitation).
Once an agreement is in place, conference coordinators will notify police prosecution of the successful completion of Justice Mediation. Police Prosecution will then withdraw the charge.
Justice Mediation is also offered to young offenders and is called Restorative Justice Conferencing. This process diverts youths from the already clogged criminal justice system into an environment that encourages open discussion on the impacts of the young offender’s acts on the affected parties.
Restorative Justice Conferencing can act as a deterrent and encourage open discussion between the parties and discuss a strategy or strategies to rectify the damage or harm caused. The young offender must acknowledge the crime that they have committed and be willing to participate in the conference.
If an agreement is reached, Police Prosecution will then withdraw the charge and offer no evidence. Research has shown that conferencing can be more effective in reducing reoffending than traditional justice methods.
If you believe that you have been charged with an offence that could be dealt with by way of Restorative Justice Conferencing then it is important to seek legal advice. If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.