- What is DVTO court?
- Support for victims
- DVTO court process
- What happens in the counselling programs?
- No-contact orders
- Sentencing in DVTO court
Domestic Violence Treatment Option (DVTO) is a therapeutic court for people who've been charged with domestic violence. It's an alternative to the regular court system.
What is DVTO court?
DVTO aims to help offenders take responsibility for their violent behaviour. It tries to help people who've been charged with domestic violence understand and "unlearn" their abusive behaviour. The offender always has to participate in a rehabilitation program.
In order for an offender to participate in DVTO, the offender must:
- take responsibility for their abusive behaviour; and
- plead guilty to the charge before the court.
The DVTO court is a special criminal court in Yukon. It deals with intimate partner violence. If your partner or ex-partner has been charged with domestic assault, then their case may be heard in this court.
The DVTO court will offer your partner or ex-partner:
- counselling; and
- support to help change their abusive behaviour.
The court will closely monitor your partner or ex-partner when they're in the program.
The victim's concerns about safety and needs are the court's priority. The court addresses these while the offender is taking part in a program. The court listens to the victim at all stages of its process.
DVTO court can provide you with help and support through Victim Services. A victim services worker is available to help you through the court process. You can decide whether or not to access services – the choice is yours.
Is DVTO like diversion?
The DVTO Court is a real court with a judge and lawyers. It's not a diversion program. It gives your partner or ex-partner a chance to get help. It gives them an opportunity to make changes in their life.
Before your partner or ex-partner can take part in the DVTO court, they have to plead guilty to their offence(s).
Your partner or ex-partner will have to take part in counselling programs including Respectful Relationships.
Your partner or ex-partner will meet regularly with their case manager. They will have to go to court for regular check-ins with the judge.
After your partner or ex-partner has completed DVTO programming, they will be sentenced. The timeline varies, but on average the process can take from 6 months to 1 year.
Support for victims
If you have been assaulted, you can get help from Victim Services. We help people who have partners or ex-partners in the DVTO court.
Victim services workers can help you with the following:
- tell you what your rights are in DVTO court;
- tell you what will go on in DVTO court;
- attend DVTO court with or for you;
- keep track of what's going on in court with your (ex) partner and report back to you;
- help you make a safety plan based on the risks you identify;
- help you prepare and file a victim impact statement;
- help you look at what your options are for making changes;
- give you general information about the legal system; and
- give you information about other resources in the community.
Victim Services also provides short-term crisis counselling. They can talk with you about any problems you're having in your life. They can help you talk about issues that may come up after assault.
Victim Services works closely with other services in the community. Victim Services can help you answer any questions you may have. If you have not received a referral to Victim Services, please contact them by:
- email; or
- in person.
DVTO court process
Steps of the DVTO court
- Your partner or ex-partner is charged by the police for domestic violence.
- Your partner or ex-partner appears in the DVTO court before a judge. If they do not have a lawyer, a lawyer from Legal Aid will be there to help. This lawyer is called duty counsel.
- Your partner or ex-partner can apply to participate in DVTO. The court will make an assessment to decide if they're suitable for the program.
- Your partner or ex-partner enters a plea:
- To enter DVTO they have to plead guilty. Your partner or ex-partner will get an appointment with a case manager at the Justice Wellness Centre.
- If your partner or ex-partner pleads not guilty, or if is not found suitable for the program, they'll leave the DVTO court. Their case will go to trial in the regular court process.
- If your partner or ex-partner enters DVTO, they'll start counselling and programming.
- Your partner or ex-partner will go to DVTO court for check-ins with the judge. There will be multiple check-ins.
- Your partner or ex-partner will be sentenced.
Where and when is DVTO?
- The Whitehorse DVTO court sits every 2nd Monday.
- It's in the Law Courts building, usually in courtroom #5.
- DVTO court starts at 2 p.m.
What happens during a DVTO court appearance?
DVTO court is a bit different from other courts. It focuses on how your partner or ex-partner is doing in the program. At the start, your partner or ex-partner may have to go to DVTO court a lot. They may have to go every 2 weeks. If your partner or ex-partner is doing a good job in the programming, the judge may say that they don’t have to come to court as often.
Who is present at court?
People who are working with your partner or ex-partner may also be in court, such as their case manager. These people will tell the judge how your partner or ex-partner is doing, which occurs outside of court at a pre-court meeting.
If there are children in your family or in your partner's or ex-partner's family, a social worker from Family and Children’s Services may be there. They'll keep track of what's going on. A Victim Services worker will be there to keep track of what is going on.
What about you?
- You do not have to be in court when your partner or ex-partner is in court.
- If you want to be in court, you're welcome to be there. A Victim Services worker can go with you to court.
- A Victim Services worker will always be in court on your behalf. They can report back to you on what happened.
- If you have any questions about what happened in court, you can contact Victim Services.
What happens in the counselling programs?
DVTO provides programming and counselling for people who choose to abuse their partners or ex-partners.
The program has 3 parts:
- intake and suitability assessment;
- counselling and programming; and
Your partner or ex-partner will work on things like:
- their abusive behaviour;
- how family violence affects children; and
- how to have healthy relationships.
Substance-use programming is also an option.
When your partner or ex-partner is arrested on a domestic violence charge, they can be released by the police or the court.
When your partner or ex-partner is released, 1 of the conditions will be to have no contact with you. This is called a no-contact order.
What does a no-contact order mean?
- You partner or ex-partner is not allowed to visit, phone, e-mail, text, talk to, or send messages to you in any way, including through social media.
- If your partner or ex-partner sees you on the street or somewhere else, they must stay away from you.
- If you try to contact your partner or ex-partner, they must end the contact with you right away.
If your partner's or ex-partner’s no-contact order lists other people on it, the same rules apply to their contact with them.
The no-contact order is there to keep you and your children safe. It's there to give you the time you need to make the best choices for you and your family.
If your partner or ex-partner contacts you when they are not supposed to, they may be charged with a breach. It's a criminal offence to breach a no-contact order.
Report a breach
You can report any potential contact from your partner or ex-partner to:
- their bail supervisor; or
- to your victim services worker who can help you take the necessary steps.
Contact Victim Services if you want to discuss your partner's or ex-partner's no-contact order.
How to ask for contact
Your partner or ex-partner can ask for permission to contact you through their case manager, in consultation with Victim Services.
You can also ask for contact through your victim services worker. Contact can be limited, for example to electronic only contact or public contact.
If your partner or ex-partner has a no-contact order condition that says "except with permission of the case manager", they can ask for permission to contact you. If the case manager has the ability to alter the condition, they may decide to grant permission after consulting with others.
Sentencing in DVTO court
The DVTO court will sentence your partner or ex-partner after they've finished:
- the DVTO program; and
- any other programming required by the court.
Their sentence will depend on how well they did in DVTO. If they did well, they may get a sentence that can be served in the community.
You'll have the opportunity to write a victim impact statement. The judge will consider it when they sentence your partner or ex-partner.
Victim impact statement
You can tell the court how the assault has affected you. Your victim impact statement may make a difference in the sentence of your partner or ex-partner.
The statement will be read by the judge and by the lawyers. Your partner or ex-partner will also get to see it. You should think carefully about what you put into it.
The victim impact statement tells the court what the assault meant to you or how it impacted you.
- How did the assault make you feel (emotional impact)?
- Was your body hurt (physical impact)?
- How did it change your money situation (financial impact)?
- How did the assault make your children feel? Did it change how they behave?
If you want to fill out a victim impact statement, Victim Services can help you do it.
Writing a victim impact statement is voluntary. You do not have to fill it out.
You can phone or drop in to talk to us (no appointment required) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In person: 301 Jarvis Street, 2nd floor
Toll free: 1-800-661-0408, extension 8500
In person: 813B 3rd Avenue
In person: 820 Adela Trail