The Domestic Violence Court Program
is a post-charge Court.

Only individuals who have been charged with an offence that is eligible for a
community-based sentence may participate.

People who face a charge that carries a mandatory jail sentence are not eligible.

How it Works

The individual is arraigned in Provincial Court.

Legal Aid or duty counsel will then explain the Domestic Violence Court Program. The accused can also seek advice from a private lawyer, if he or she chooses.

The accused must accept responsibility for the offence by pleading guilty in order to proceed through this specialized court.

A thorough risk and needs assessment is conducted by the police and community corrections officials to determine the most appropriate program. Program options range from five-week and 10-week educational programs to a 25-week therapeutic program.

As the individual attends the program, his/her progress is monitored by the Court.

A Judge then sentences the individual, taking into consideration the person’s participation in the program.


Answers to Some Frequently-asked Questions

What is the goal of this specialty Court?

To try to stop the cycle of domestic abuse by offering families affected by domestic violence early access to programs.

Who will this help?

The Program is intended to giving individuals a chance to change their behaviour. It attempts to help them to move on with their lives in a meaningful way. However, it requires a commitment to change on the part of the offenders.

The Domestic Violence Court Program
is currently only available at the
courthouse in Sydney, Nova Scotia

Provincial Court
2nd Floor, Suites #4 & #5
136 Charlotte St.
Sydney, NS

Phone: (902) 563-3510
Fax: (902) 563-3421

Why is there a need for a domestic violence court?

One of the key reasons that domestic violence is different from other crimes is because of the complex relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. Such programs can help the criminal justice system respond to domestic violence with a more collaborative approach. They allow for the input of experts and for programming options which may help resolve the problems.

How is someone referred to the domestic violence court?

The decision to identify a case as a domestic violence case rests upon the relationship between the accused and the complainant, not necessarily on the criminal code charge.  Assessments of the risks involved, the needs of the accused and the victims, and readiness of the accused to deal with the problems ensure that the appropriate interventions are made available.