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Court Programs in South Australia

Updated on Oct 25, 2022 4 min read 401 views Copy Link

Michelle Makela

Published in Dec 02, 2015 Updated on Oct 25, 2022 4 min read 401 views

Court Programs in South Australia

Court Programs in South Australia target behavioural issues of offenders or problems with substance abuse in an effort to reduce the risk of reoffending. South Australia has diversionary programs as well as specialist court programs that aim to deal with offending in a way that addresses its root causes. This article outlines the court programs that exist is South Australia.

Aims of court programs in South Australia

The aim of court programs in South Australia is to address the causes of crime before sentencing so that the likelihood of re-offending is reduced. Successful participation in the programs is taken into account in sentencing, but a failure to successfully complete the program is not.

Court programs in South Australia operate in specialist courts, with Magistrates assigned to each court so they can follow the progress of participants through the program.

Magistrates Court Diversion Program – Overview and Eligibility

This court program runs in several South Australian Magistrates’ Courts and gives adult defendants an opportunity to address mental health issues and / or disability needs as well as offending behaviours. It aims to stop future offending by providing early assessment and interventions to address mental health needs.

There must be a connection between the defendant’s mental impairment and the offending behaviour and the defendant must plead guilty to serious offences. Mental impairment includes:

  • personality disorders
  • mental illness
  • an intellectual disability
  • an acquired brain injury, or
  • a neurological disorder.

Magistrates Court Diversion Program – Process

If accepted into the court program (following an eligibility assessment), the hearing is adjourned for about 6 months. Defendants are linked to services in the community and their progress is monitored.

The Magistrate reviews their compliance every 2 months and will reinforce and reward if the treatment regimens and lifestyle changes are successful. If not, the Magistrate will take alternative action. Failing to complete the program, or a failure to make sufficient progress, will not be considered at sentencing.

At the end of the program, the Magistrate may:

  • dismiss the matter
  • convict without penalty, or
  • impose a fine or bond.

Treatment Intervention Program – Overview and Eligibility

This court program runs for up to 6 months and is for adult defendants with mental impairment and / or substance dependence who have been charged with a summary or minor indictable offence.

It aims to:

  • reduce re-offending
  • improve mental and physical health and social functioning, and
  • stop or reduce drug use.

To be eligible a defendant must have been charged with an offence related to their drug use (but not necessarily a drug offence) and / or their mental impairment.

Mental impairment includes:

  • mental illness
  • an acquired brain injury
  • personality disorders
  • an intellectual disability
  • a neurological disorder.

Treatment Intervention Program – Process

For defendants with a mental impairment only, the program is run the same way as the Magistrates’ Court Diversion Program. Supervision is low to medium, court reviews are every 2 months, and defendants will be linked to treatment services in the community.

For defendants who have a drug dependency problem, the program is more intensive and is in two phases. The first lasts 2 months and involves:

  • bail
  • court reviews every fortnight
  • contact with the Program Supervisor weekly or fortnightly
  • random drug testing at least twice weekly
  • referral to a drug treatment service for individuals or as part of a group.

Phase 2 continues for four months and involves:

  • monthly court reviews
  • random weekly drug testing
  • continued therapeutic intervention as in Phase 1
  • implementation of a revised rehabilitation and recovery plan
  • minimum fortnightly contact with the Program Supervisor.

This court program is available at all metropolitan Magistrates’ Courts and the Youth Court.

The Youth Court Treatment Intervention Program targets youth who, because of the nature of their offences, may not be eligible to participate in a family conference.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Dec 02, 2015

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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