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There are 3 therapeutic courts in New Zealand: 2 in Auckland and 1 in Wellington within the criminal District Court system.
Therapeutic courts aim to reduce reoffending, alcohol, drug use, and addiction. They try to help a person’s health and well-being so they can move on with their lives. If someone appears before a therapeutic court, they’re sentenced in the same way and the same laws apply as in other New Zealand courts.
You can’t choose to appear before a therapeutic court. You or your lawyer can ask a judge to go through the court but a judge may say you can’t. Therapeutic courts are for people who have committed less serious offending and who have admitted their guilt. This court does not hear serious offences like sexual offences.
Participating in these courts takes commitment on your part. Once you’ve undergone treatment, you’ll still be sentenced for your crime.
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts are at Waitakere District Court and Auckland District Court. They’re designed to supervise offenders whose offending is driven by their alcohol and other drug dependency.
Cabinet established the AODT Courts in 2012 as a 5-year pilot program, with the Ministry of Justice commissioning a formative and process evaluation. In 2016, Cabinet Paper agreed to extend the pilot until 2020:
In 2019, Cabinet agreed to make the AODT Courts in Auckland and Waitakere permanent, and fund a new AODTC Court in Hamilton, following a 2018-2019 evaluation by the Ministry of Justice:
The New Beginnings Court Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou is aimed at homeless people in Auckland. The Special Circumstances Court is aimed at homeless people in Wellington.
If you get accepted into one of these courts, you can get help to address issues in your life that contribute to your offending.
This is a voluntary court. People going through it can choose to withdraw and be returned to the normal court system at any time.
If you want to find out more about these courts, talk to your lawyer.
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