Justice Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution are gaining attention in the Queensland criminal justice system. Police officers, prosecutors, victims of crime and accused persons are increasingly aware of the benefits offered by mediation.
What is Restorative Justice Mediation?
There are several types of justice mediation.
The most well-known form is a therapeutic process known as “restorative justice conferencing” or “justice mediation”. Restorative Justice Conferences are conducted by the Department of Attorney General. A person who is charged with a criminal offence may have their matter diverted to a restorative justice conference if the victim, the prosecution and the court all consent. The parties then conduct a mediation with the assistance of a qualified mediator and, if the mediation is successful, the prosecution may withdraw the criminal charge and the proceedings come to an end. Restorative justice processes emphasise the importance of showing remorse, taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and enabling all parties to heal from the harm caused by the criminal offending.
Justice Mediation may also occur in the context of a private mediation, where a third-party mediator assists the accused person and the victim to resolve their dispute. Private mediation may or may not have a restorative or therapeutic aspect.
What does the law say?
A criminal matter can be referred to mediation by a prosecutor, police, court, or lawyer at any stage. Section 133 (5)(b) and (c) of Criminal Code 1899 (Queensland) allows for:
(i) mediation in good faith between the alleged offender and a victim of the offence or anyone acting in the interests of the victim in relation an apology, compensation or restitution; and
(ii) dispute resolution relating to the alleged offence.
It is important to remember that mediation is a consent-based process. If the complainant or victim does not agree, mediation will generally not be an option in the matter.
What happens in a mediation?
Mediation is an “out of court” process. An express purpose of restorative forms of mediation is to offer the victim an opportunity to speak about the impact that the offending had on them. It also creates a forum for the offender to apologise and to express an understanding of how their behaviour impacted on others. The idea is to help the parties to come up with a solution and rectify the harm experienced by the victim.
What are the wider benefits of mediation?
A significant body of empirical evidence suggests that mediation, in appropriate cases, facilitates an offender’s rehabilitation and reintegration into the community, and enables them to have increased insight into the criminogenic causes of their behaviour.
For some victims, mediation can be a very powerful experience because it enables them to confront the offender directly and speak to pain that they have caused. For some victims, receiving a genuine apology helps them to move on from the experience.
Do I need a lawyer to arrange a mediation?
A lawyer will be able to speak with the police, prosecutors or the court about having a matter referred to mediation. Lawyers can ensure that the matter is referred to mediation in a way that provides maximum confidentiality and protection to all parties. Lawyers are also able to be present during some forms of mediation, and provide advice about the terms of any agreement reach.
If you would like more information on mediation processes or would like to know whether your matter is suitable for mediation, please contact Jasper Fogerty Lawyers.
What does it cost to hire a criminal lawyer?
The cost will vary depending on your needs.
We suggest contacting Jasper Fogerty Lawyers to discuss whether your matter could be covered by an affordable fixed-fee rate.
We also offer free initial telephone advice and case assessment, which may help you make a decision about whether you need legal representation. You can contact us 24/7.
We hope you have found this information useful.
Jasper Fogerty Lawyers are accredited specialists in criminal law, with extensive experience in all areas including traffic crime. We are available 24/7 for legal advice and representation.
Contact the authors:
Mobile: 0432 512 902
Phone: (07) 3190 9242