Supporting Drug and Alcohol Workers and their Clients to Navigate the Court System. Presented by Clare Magni, Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW.

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1 Supporting Drug and Alcohol Workers and their Clients to Navigate the Court System Presented by Clare Magni, Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW.

2 Legal Aid NSW Is a state wide organisation providing legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people. Provides free legal advice in Criminal Law, Family Law and most areas of Civil Law. Provides representation to people who qualify for a Grant of legal aid in Criminal, Family and Civil Law matters. Operates a number of specialist services that may assist clients with complex needs.

3 Criminal Law Division Legal Aid NSW In house criminal lawyers represent clients in criminal matters in the Local, District and Supreme Courts at a number of locations in metropolitan and regional NSW. Contact details for office locations can be found on our website: At locations where in-house Solicitors do not appear; Legal Aid NSW operates a duty lawyer scheme conducted by private lawyers. Clients can apply to be represented in Court on a Grant of legal aid.

4 Specialist services relevant to clients with complex needs: Children s Legal Service. Drug Court. Prisoner s Legal Service. Mental Health Advocacy Service (part of the Civil Law Division). Client Assessment & Referral (CARS).

5 Children s Legal Service Represents young people aged between (up to 21 years of age if matter is in the Children s Court or offence committed prior to turning 18). Provides representation at Bidura (Glebe), Parramatta, Hornsby, Sutherland, Port Kembla and Campbelltown Children s Court. Visiting Legal Service to Juvenile Justice Centres. Legal Aid Youth Hotline : is state-wide criminal law advice service for people under 18. It operates from 9am 12am weekdays and 24hours on weekends and public holidays.

6 Drug Court Provide representation to people appearing before the Drug Court at Parramatta and the Hunter (Toronto). All participants on the Drug Court program are eligible for Legal Aid no means test. Advocate that clients are eligible and appropriate participants for this program and continue to advocate for clients for the duration of the Drug Court program. There is also a Youth Drug and Alcohol Court solicitor who is part of the Children s Legal Service.

7 Prisoner s Legal Service Offers advice, minor assistance and representation to prisoners in NSW correctional centres. Represents clients at hearings at the State Parole Authority; life sentence determinations; segregation appeals; visiting magistrate hearings. Gives advice about bail, appeals, classification, parole, applications for legal aid. Civil and Family Law advice also available. Main office located in the Parramatta Justice Precinct: Phone

8 Mental Health Advocacy Service Provides information, advice and assistance about Mental Health Law. Provides advice in person or over the telephone to people with a mental health problem and also provides advice to their family and support people. Represents people detained under the Mental Health Act before the Mental Health Review Tribunal - such as in inquiries regarding involuntary patient orders and Community Treatment Orders (CTOs). Represents people appearing before the Guardianship Tribunal. Lawyers funded by Legal Aid NSW appear at all hospitals in NSW that detain involuntary patients. The main office is located at Legal Aid Burwood: Phone

9 Client Assessment & Referrals (CARS) CARS is a team of Social Work consultants who assist inhouse Legal Aid solicitors in Criminal Law matters by preparing psychosocial reports, s.32 case plans and short reports. They also provide reports to Solicitors in the Family and Civil Law divisions. CARS can assist in referring clients to appropriate services such as drug and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence support programs - (Community Referral and Information Service (CRIS) ). A report from CARS may useful for clients with complex needs as it can address mental health, disability, social background and drug and alcohol issues in one report.

10 Advice Legal Aid NSW provides advice services at all regional offices and other locations throughout NSW. Advice services are either provided by appointment or by drop-in clinic. Information about advice clinics is available by ringing your local Legal Aid NSW office OR on the Legal Aid NSW website:

11 Applications for Legal Aid For legal representation your client may need to make and application for a Grant of legal aid. Application forms are available online, or can be obtained by attending a Legal Aid NSW office in person. Private Solicitors on the Legal Aid Panel can also apply for a Grant of legal aid for your client although priority is given to representation by inhouse Solicitors.

12 Means Test Legal aid is only available to people of limited financial means. In order to determine who is eligible for legal aid applicants are subject to a means test which looks at the applicant s and any financially associated person s: Income - from work, Centrelink or otherwise. Assets houses, cars, money in the bank or other investments. Allows for deductions for dependants and some housing costs.

13 Merit Test Prior to granting legal aid in a criminal law matter, Legal Aid NSW will assess whether there are reasonable prospects of success in the matter.

14 Type of Matter Legal aid is only available for representation in criminal law matters if the offence carries a term of imprisonment or there are exceptional circumstances. In traffic matters legal aid is only available if there is a real possibility that a term of imprisonment will be imposed. Legal aid is not available to defend an ADVO / APVO although client may be eligible for representation on associated charge for a Domestic Violence offence.

15 Clients with complex needs: Clients may present with a number of complex needs that have an impact on their criminal offending behaviour. This includes but is not limited to clients with: Mental illness / mental conditions. Intellectual disability. Brain injury. Personality disorder. Drug and alcohol issues.

16 Diversionary programs in the Local Court clients with complex needs There are a number of programs operating in the Local Court that aim to divert clients with drug and alcohol or mental health issues away from the traditional criminal justice process. There is a recognition that treating the underlying factors that contribute to offending behaviour reduces criminality.

17 Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW) Section 32 application: An application for the matter to be dismissed by the Magistrate (generally on the condition that a person complies with a treatment plan for 6 months). Applies to people who are: Developmentally disabled; Suffering from a mental illness; Suffering from a mental condition for which treatment is available in a mental health facility. But are not a mentally ill persons.

18 Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW) (continued) Section 33: applies to people who are mentally ill as defined by Mental Health Act Person is taken to a hospital and detained for assessment. Generally applies to persons in custody.

19 Merit program Defendants appearing in the Local Court who have a demonstrable drug (or alcohol) problem. 3 month drug rehabilitation program matter is adjourned while defendant is completing the program. Defendant does not have to enter a plea prior to being accepted on the program. Sentence occurs after program is completed.

20 Credit program Similar to Merit however it also addresses a wider range of issues including: Drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Homelessness. Mental health issues. Financial problems and unemployment. Disability. At the moment this is a pilot program available at Burwood and Tamworth Local Court.

21 Drug Court Specialist Court that addresses offending behaviour for clients who have a demonstrable drug problem. Generally clients with more serious offences or significant drug histories. Drug Court will accept referrals from both the Local and District Court. Average duration of 12 months. Clients with severe mental health issues may not be eligible for the program.

22 Community Legal Education Want to find out more? Legal Aid NSW offers a number of training programs for community workers phone: or Legal Aid NSW will also attend your community organisation to educate your clients about the NSW legal system Call Solicitor Community Legal Education (Crime) to discuss options (02)

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