Sentencing Circle Law and Legal Definition

A sentencing circle refers to an attempt to rediscover the traditional aboriginal method of dealing with members of the community who have broken the law. It involves discussion between offenders, victims, and members of the community. A judge and a defense lawyer or prosecutor and/or policeman can also sit in the circle. A person sitting in the circle has no special powers or privileges. Everyone in the circle has the same power, as the circle operates on the basis of consensus. Everyone in the circle must agree as to what to do about the person who has broken the law. This type of sentencing opportunity allows an accused to favorably influence the court passing sentence, by convening a conciliatory pre-sentence meeting between offender and victim. This method was used by native Canadian people.