The Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court (DVTO) is an alternative court process which allows people who have used violence against a spouse to take responsibility for their behavior and receive support and counseling. The program provides opportunities for therapy and counseling that can reduce the risk of re-offending.
When the police lay a charge involving domestic violence, the first hearing of the matter is scheduled in DVTO Court. Crown and defense counsel can also recommend cases for referral to the program.
All matters are reviewed for eligibility following first appearance. Once eligibility is established and in order to continue in DVTO, the offender must accept responsibility by pleading guilty before the court.
Participants in the program complete eight modules designed to address the emotional and psychological causes of domestic violence, and may access additional counseling to work on other factors impacting their relationships such as alcohol and drug addiction.
Upon completion of the program, the offender must still appear before the court for sentencing. The sentencing judge will take into consideration meaningful progress made by the offender through the program. This will often result in a reduced sentence being given.
The DVTO schedule can be found here.