Legal Aid, Courtworker, and Public Legal Education and Information Needs in the Yukon Territory: Final Report

8. Interplay Between Criminal and Civil Issues

The original intent here was to explore whether criminal and civil matters are interconnected, and if more adequate coverage of or earlier response to either type of issue might forestall the need for coverage of or response to the other. This matter cannot be examined in a useful way through a file review, to explore the impacts on non-coverage in one or other area, because, by definition, if there was no coverage there was no file to be reviewed.

The main pattern described by respondents was one in which family disputes lead to domestic assaults, abduction of the child, seizure of property, or other crimes. Respondents emphasized two aspects: that the disputes usually involve children, and usually involve alcohol. Respondents felt that a more holistic approach was required to help break the pattern. The Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court (and defence counsel's involvement in it) is considered a step in this direction. In the communities, a community justice co-ordinator sometimes offers counselling to help clients understand the larger picture, and to break the cycle that could lead to criminal incidents.

These patterns speak to the importance of increased legal aid at the final order stage so that disputes are not perpetuated; and of extending coverage to division of assets and property, and to victim assistance orders under the Family Violence Protection Act.

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