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. 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 and this will be explored below.
A victim of crime is someone who:
- has been hurt (physically or psychologically) because of a crime;
- becomes pregnant because of a crime;
- has been hurt after witnessing a crime; or
- is a family member of or is in a close relationship with someone who has been injured or who has died as a result of a crime.
Some examples include victims of physical assault, theft, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse and car crashes.
Every person is unique and so everyone’s experience and reaction to crime will be different. Some effects of crime are felt immediately but others might take longer to notice. It’s important to get support to help you recover. See our section below on “If you would like to talk to someone”.
A victim has special rights in the Charter of Victims Rights. The Charter says that a victim should be treated with courtesy, compassion, cultural sensitivity and respect. Victims also have the right to information about:
- the progress of police investigations (unless it jeopardises the investigation);
- any charges laid against the person accused of committing a crime;
- the trial/court process;
- the outcome of bail applications (release of a person waiting to go to court) and the conditions of that bail;
- the outcome of a court case and the sentence given; and
- the upcoming release of an offender from jail.
You also have a right to privacy and protection which means:
- your address should be kept private unless a court orders otherwise;
- any inconvenience to you should be minimised (for example, your belongings should be returned to you as soon as possible if they are taken as evidence);
- you should be protected from any unnecessary contact with the offender or any defence witnesses; and
- you should be given the choice to not attend court or give evidence unless a court orders otherwise.
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: http://www.police.tas.gov.au/find-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 harming you.
One option is to get a restraint order or a family violence order (this is if the person who you’re scared of is related to you or is an ex-partner). This order is made by a court and can order someone to stop behaving in a particular way. For example, it can prevent someone from sending you things online, or coming near your home or your workplace.
To apply for a restraint order, you need ask the police to apply for you if you are under 18. If you are applying for a family violence order, you can apply yourself if you can understand the seriousness of the order. For more information on applying for an order, visit the Tasmania Magistrate’s Court website at http://www.magistratescourt.tas.gov.au/divisions/family_violence (for family violence orders) or http://www.magistratescourt.tas.gov.au/divisions/criminal__and__general/restraint_orders (for restraint orders).
If you have a question about applying for an order, you can contact Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania on 1300 366 6111300 366 611 or you can send us a Lawmail.
Can I get money (compensation) to help with my injuries?
If you have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result of a crime committed in the Tasmania, you may be able to apply for compensation. People who are entitled to compensation include people who witness the crime, are a parent of someone who was the victim, or are a close family member or someone.
Compensation is a bit complicated in Tasmania, 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.
To apply for financial support, you must complete a Victims of Crime Assistance Application Form. In the application form, you will have to provide proof, including a doctor or psychologist report, or receipts of medical expenses. You can complete the form at
Tasmania Department of Justice Victims Support Services Website: LINK: http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/victims/financialassistance/awards_and_payments.
If you are under 18, you have to apply within 3 years after you turn. If you are over 18, you have to apply within 3 years of the crime.
If your parent or guardian needs some help filling out the form on your behalf, or you need general advice about applying for compensation, please send us a Lawmail.
It is important to talk to someone if you have been a victim of a crime. Talking to your friends or family members might be helpful. If you want to talk to someone else, there are lots of support services that can help.
Tasmanian Victims Support Services. They offer a number of services, including counselling, information about victim impact statements, legal procedures, and your general legal rights. You can contact them on 1300 663 7731300 663 773 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact Kids Helpline if you feel like talking to someone. Their number is 1800 55 18001800 55 1800 FREE.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or family & domestic violence you can access specialised counselling and support through the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line. Their number is 1800 737 7321800 737 732 FREE.
If you are in an emergency, call 000 for help immediately. An emergency situation is when there is a serious risk to life or safety or a crime is currently being committed.
For crimes which are not emergencies, you can:
1. Report a crime over the phone by ringing the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. This line is open 24 hours 7 days a week; PAL lets you report crime over the phone.
If the crime you want to report can’t be talked about over the phone because it is serious, the operator will tell you where you can go to make the report, or they can arrange for police to come and see you.
2. Report a crime in person by visiting a local police station. Find your nearest police station here. LINK: http://www.police.tas.gov.au/contact-us/ 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.
3. Report a crime anonymously by ringing Crime Stoppers Tasmania on 1800 333 0001800 333 000 FREE.
When reporting a crime, try to keep any evidence that you have because this may assist police.
If you are unsure about reporting a crime or whether a crime has occurred please send us a Lawmail here.
What happens when I report the crime?
After you report a crime, what will happen is:
1. The police will investigate the crime
2. The police may charge (an accusation that someone did something the law can punish) a person with the crime
3. A court decides whether the person is innocent or guilt; and
4. If the person is guilty, the court will sentence the person. This may include time in jail, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
In most circumstances, you are entitled to know about the progress of the investigation.
If the police charge someone, then you are also entitled to know what the charges are, the date and place of a hearing and the outcome of any criminal proceedings (like what penalties are imposed and any appeals).
If no the police don’t charge anyone, or if the charge is changed, then you may ask what the reason is for 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 have charged) pleads guilty, you and other witnesses are not usually required to give evidence.
If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case usually goes to court. You might be given a court notice by either the investigating officer or 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.
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 DPP has a Witness Assistance Service which will provide you with information about their services and support from trained counsellors. The Witness Assistance Service can:
- provide information about Court procedures and legal processes; and
- attend meetings with witness and victims; and
- help in preparing victim impact statements.
You can access their website here LINK: http://www.crownlaw.tas.gov.au/dpp/witness_assistance_service.
You can also contact the Court Support and Liaison Service for further information:
You may also provide a Victim Impact Statement to the judge before sentencing of the offender.
A Victim Impact Statement gives you the opportunity to participate in the criminal justice system by informing the court and the offender about how the crime has affected you. The Tasmania Victims of Crime webpage offers more information.
For further information or assistance with making a Victim Impact Statement, contact Victims Support Services by calling 1300 663 7731300 663 773 (local call cost only).
If you would like some free advice on this as a child or young person please send us a Lawmail.
If you are a victim of violent crime and you want to receive information about someone in prison, you need to apply to the Victim’s Register by contacting the Victims Support Services office LINK: http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/victims/about/contact. You can download the application here: http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0011/283178/Eligible_Persons_Register_application_form_.doc
If you are on the victim’s register, you will receive information about an offender’s impending release, escape from custody, parole considerations or any unescorted absence from custody.
This page was last updated on the 13th of June 2015