VICTIMS OF CRIME
A victim of crime is a person who has suffered or has been affected because of crime. It can include the victim, or someone who saw the crime, like witness as well as family members and friends on the victim. Being a victim of any crime can badly impact a person’s life so it’s important to recognise when you or someone you know has been a victim and what you can do about it. Victims have special rights that we explain later on this page.
A victim of crime is someone who:
- has been hurt (physically, emotionally, financially or psychologically) because of a crime;
- was hurt while helping a police officer who was trying to arrest someone or who was trying to stop a crime;
- saw a crime where someone else was hurt;
- is a dependent (reliant) on someone (for example a parent) who has been injured or who has died as a result of a crime.
Examples of crimes where there is a victim include things like physical assault, theft, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse and car crashes.
Even though there are many reactions to crime, every person is unique and so everyone’s experience will be different. Some effects of crime may be felt immediately but others might take longer to notice. It’s important to get help to deal with these effects. This will help you recover as best you can.
If you are a victim, you should be treated in a sympathetic, effective and reassuring manner, with regard to your personal situation, rights and dignity.
Where it is practical and appropriate, you should be told about:
- the progress of police investigations (although police may have to keep some things confidential);
- be informed of any bail the defendant has entered into (release of a person waiting to go to court) and the conditions of that bail;
- any charges (an accusation that someone did something the law can punish) laid against the accused;
- information about the trial/court process;
- the outcome of the trial.
You have a right to privacy and protection:
- your personal details, such as your address, should be kept private, unless a court orders otherwise.
- if you feel you need protection from an offender, you should tell a police officer.
- If you have shown concern about the need for protection from an offender, you should be told if that offender will be released from custody.
- you should be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused or any witnesses for the offender’s lawyer during the course of the trial.
If you have any questions about your rights as a victim of crime please, contact the Office of the Victims of Crime Coordinator on (02) 6205 2066(02) 6205 2066
or 1800 822 2721800 822 272 FREE
The ACT government provides a free and private service for victims called the Victims Services Scheme. They can provide information, counselling, referrals, and support. This service is available to victims as well as people who were dependent on the victim where the victim died, people who have witnessed a crime and people close to the victim.
You can contact the ACT Government’s Victim Services through this website: http://www.victimsupport.act.gov.au/contact_us
If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000.
It is important that you feel safe. If you think that the offender (person who committed the crime) will harm you again, contact a police officer. They will tell you what you can do and may suggest an order to stop the offender from coming near or harming you. These are called a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) or a Personal Protection Order (PPO). The DVO is for any violence that has happened within a family and the PPO is for all others.
Examples of when a DVO or PPO could be accepted, is when someone is violent, threatens you or your property, harasses or scares you.
You can apply for a DVO or PPO by lodging an application at the Magistrates Court, or with the help of the free Legal Aid service at the court or with your own solicitor. You must provide details of harassment, abuse and/or violence to help the court to make a decision.
If you need further advice you can contact the Legal Aid Domestic Violence and Protection Order Unit on (02) 6207 1874(02) 6207 1874
If you have suffered a physical or mental injury because of a violent, you may be able to apply for financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Financial Assistance Scheme.
A violent crime is one which involves a dangerous situation which could or has cause injury or death to a person. Some examples are murder, manslaughter, assault, endangering health, robbery and aggravated robbery.
It’s important to remember that you need to apply for financial assistance within 2 years of the crime taking place.
It is important to talk to someone if you have been a victim of a crime. So if you can’t talk to one of your friends or a family member, or you just want to talk to someone with experience there are different services available.
The Victims of Crime Assistance League Inc provide a wide range of support including counselling, court preparation and support, and lots of information on different areas including example Victim Impact Statements and stories from other victims. You can check out their website LINK: http://vocalact.webs.com/
or contact them on (02) 6295 9600(02) 6295 9600
For the general victims phone service you can also try Victim Support ACT. You can call them on 1800 822 2721800 822 272 FREE
and they can help you find things like emergency accommodation or counselling services.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or family & domestic violence you can call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 737 7321800 737 732 FREE
. They give specialised counselling and support for victims of this crime.
If it’s an emergency, call 000 immediately. Emergencies include if a crime is going on right now, if someone is seriously injured or in danger or another crime is about to happen or get worse.
If it’s not an emergency, you can report a crime by:
- ringing the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. This line is open 24 hours 7 days a week; or
- report a crime in person by visiting a local police station. Some police stations will have access to Domestic Violence Officers, Youth Liaison Officers, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers if they are needed. You can find your local police station here: LINK: http://www.police.act.gov.au/contact
Things that you could call the PAL for are things like stealing, stolen cars, graffiti, car accidents and someone robbing your house.
When a crime is reported, the police will investigate and decide whether to charge someone. They may decide to give a caution, a summons, or to arrest someone.
In most cases, you are entitled to know about the progress of this investigation. In some cases this you might not be able to find information out if this will impact the investigation.
If the police charge someone, you are entitled to know:
- what these charges are
- the date and place of a hearing
- the outcome of any criminal proceedings (like what penalties are imposed and any appeal proceedings).
If the police don’t charge anyone, or they change the charge, you are also entitled to know the reasons for this.
When a person is charged with a crime, they may be in police custody or may receive a summons to appear in court at a later date. If they are arrested and you are concerned for your protection, you should tell the police officer.
If the defendant pleads guilty, you and other witnesses are not usually required to give evidence.
If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will probably go to court. You might be given court notices telling you when you need to go to court. If you are given a notice, you must attend court unless the police or DPP tells you otherwise.
You might also be given the opportunity to explain to the court how the crime has affected you through a Victim Impact Statement. The court may take your views into account when deciding how to sentence (punish) the offender.
If you think you may be called as a witness in court, it can be helpful to get information and support before the date of the hearing. The Victims and Justice webpage should be able to provide certain information.
Yes. Victims of crime are allowed to get information about an offender who has been sent to prison . The victims register provides information about an offender’s future release, escape from jail, or any absence from jail.
To get this information, you need to ask the Sentence Administration Unit to add you to the Victims of Crime Register. To do this, contact the Victim Liaison Officer of ACT Corrective Services on (02) 6207 0836(02) 6207 0836
or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can access the Registration Form online at: http://cdn.justice.act.gov.au/resources/uploads/ACTCS/Victims_Register_Registration_Form.pdf
This page was last updated on the 13th of June 2015