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. For example, if you saw someone being hurt or killed, you could be considered a victim of crime.
Some examples of crimes where there are victims include 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 as this will help you recover.
Victims of crime have special legal rights written in the law. As a victim, you have the right to be treated with courtesy, respect and sympathy. You also have the right to get certain information about the case against the person who has allegedly committed the crime.
Some information you can ask about include:
- the progress of police investigations;
- if the police have charged anyone;
- the outcome of the trial and any punishment given to the offender;
- when the offender is going to be released from jail, or if they have escaped
As a victim of crime, you also have a right to privacy and protection, which means your personal details should be kept private.
If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 000.
If you think that the offender (the person who has committed a crime) will harm you again, you should contact a police officer. You can find your nearest police station here LINK: https://www.police.sa.gov.au/contact-us/find-your-local-police-station
The police will tell you what you can do and might advise you to get an order to stop the offender from coming near you coming near you and harming you. These orders are called intervention orders. These orders mean that the person who you are scared cannot do certain things, like come near your home or your workplace.
You can apply for an order on your own if you are over 14, otherwise you need your parent’s permission, or you need the police to apply for you.
You can contact Legal Aid South Australia on 1300 366 4241300 366 424.
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. Most 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: https://www.police.sa.gov.au/contact-us/find-your-local-police-station
Things that you could call the PAL for are things like stealing, stolen cars, graffiti, car accidents and someone robbing your house.
If you are unsure about whether to report a crime, you can send us a Lawmail.
The police will first begin investigating the crime by talking to the victim and any witnesses. In most circumstances, you are entitled to know about the progress of the investigation.
If the police plan to charge someone, the victim should be told what the charges are, when the court hearing will be, and what the result of the case is, and what the punishment has been.
If the police don’t charge anyone, or they change the charge, they should tell the victim why they have done this.
If you want to find out more about reporting a crime please send us a Lawmail here.
If the defendant (the person the police think have done the crime) pleads guilty, you probably won’t have to go to court, unless you want to.
If the defendant denies the crime, the case will probably go to court. You might be given court notices by either the investigating officer of the DPP 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.
At sentencing (when the court decides what the punishment should be), the court will read your victim impact statement which explains in your words how the crime has affected you, and how you think the offender should be punished. The judge doesn’t have to agree with your views 100% but they will take them on board when deciding.
If you have specific questions regarding victim impact statements or going to court, please send us a Lawmail.
If you have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result of a crime, you may be able to get compensation. If you want to apply for compensation, you need to do so within 3 years after the crime happened.
Compensation is a bit complicated in South Australia, so if you would like to know more information which relates to you and your child or are acting on behalf of a child, please send us a Lawmail and we can give you more information.
It is important to talk to someone if you have been a victim of a crime. This could be a family member or your friends. At the same time, there may be advantages in talking to services that have extensive experience in these areas. As we mentioned above, the “Where can I get help?” page on the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights’ website is a great place to start. We list some other places you can look at below.
Victims Support Service Inc. is a really good support group. They provide a wide range of support including counselling, court preparation and support. They have lots of information on different areas including examples of Victim Impact Statements, and they can even provide a companion for court. You can check their website: http://www.victimsa.org/ or contact them at 1800 842 8461800 842 846 FREE.
DPP Witness Assistance Service also provides help to victims of crime and their immediate family in dealing with many aspects of the criminal justice system. This includes access to information and support services and they can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. You can check their website: http://www.dpp.sa.gov.au/02/was.php?s=02 or contact them at (08) 8207 1529(08) 8207 1529.
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 those crimes.