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Victims

Victims

In most crimes, there’s someone who suffers as a result of a crime – this could be a person or a company.

This section lets you know what to expect as a victim of a crime.

I’m a victim of a crime, can I sue the other person?

If you’re the victim of a crime, the first thing you should do is to contact the police. After reporting the crime to the police, the police has a responsibility to investigate and decide whether to take the offender to court.

In NZ, the government takes the criminal cases against the offender, not the victim. The case is not between you and the accused, which may be a little different from what you see on tv. If the case is taken to court, the police will give all the investigation information to the ‘Prosecutors’ – lawyers that work for the government in criminal cases. The prosecutors, are lawyers that represent the government in the case.

Generally, you can’t sue the other person. If you have any financial losses, you should tell the police, and this will be information that is added to the case. The prosecutor can ask for losses to be repaid at sentencing. If you want to know a little more, support is available for victims.

How should victims of a crime be treated?

The law says that victims should be treated respectfully and compassionately. Anyone who deals with you should treat you well, and respect your dignity and privacy. This includes the police, defence lawyers and judges.

What support does a victim get?

If you have been the victim of a crime, you can access support to help you deal with the consequences of the crime. Victim Support is the primary organisation who can help you get access to that support. You can also get some financial help from ACC if you have been hurt.

If the police decide to take the person accused of the crime to court, you can get a victim advisor who will support you during the court process. Your victim advisor will keep you updated on how the case is going. They should also explain your rights to you. Your victim advisor is the first person you should talk to if you have any questions.
If you would like support for domestic violence, please click here.

What are Victim Advisors?

Victim Advisors are specialist staff that work at the court. They provide confidential support to victims who will appear in court (usually as witnesses) and will usually be able to answer questions you have about the process. They will normally get in touch with you after the offender’s first court appearance.

For more information, please click here.

I’m a victim of a crime, will the police let me know what’s happening with the case?

The police have to keep victims informed about what is happening with the investigation unless the information could harm the proceedings. This includes telling you whether anyone has been charged, and how the accused person will be dealt with. You should also be informed about any court dates, whether you will need to be a witness, and when an offender will be released.

You can request for a Police Report from the police branch that had dealt with the case if it is completed and you did not receive a copy.

For serious crimes, you can also register on the victim notification register.

I’m a victim of a crime, the offender is being considered for parole, can I get a say in their release from prison?

If the offender is going to be considered for release from prison, you can either participate in their Parole Board hearing or meet with a Parole Board member to let them know your views and concerns.

I’ve heard criminal cases now go through a Restorative Justice process, what is it? Does it concern me as the victim?

In some criminal cases, a restorative justice conference is recommended as part of an informal, facilitated meeting between a victim, offender, support people and any other approved people, such as community representatives or interpreters. This happens before sentencing at court, and if agreement is met, the agreement will be relayed to the judge at sentencing who will take the agreement into consideration.

At a restorative justice conference, the offender can take responsibility for their offending, apologise to the victim, discuss ways to not re-offend, and also decide how to put right the harm that has been caused. As the victim, you can suggest what the offender can do to make things right.

If it’s practical and safe to have a Restorative Justice meeting, you will be asked whether you want to have one. It’s completely up to you whether you want to go – no one should ever pressure you into going if you don’t want to. If you come to an agreement in the Restorative Justice meeting of an appropriate punishment for the offender, this will be written down and passed onto the judge to consider.

I’ve been asked to make a Victim Impact Statement, what is it?

A Victim Impact Statement is information from you (the victim) about:

  • any physical or emotional harm that you suffered because of the offence,
  • any damage to your property or loss of property that happened because of the offence, and
  • any other effects that the crime has had on you.

Your victim impact statement is given to the judge in charge of sentencing the offender. The judge can take it into account when they decide what punishment the offender should get.

I’ve been told I need to give evidence in court, what do I need to do?

You might be told to go into court on a certain date to stand up in court and give evidence against the accused. As a young person, you may be able to have a support person (like mum or dad) sit with you.

You will be asked questions about the crime. First, the police will ask you questions, and then the defence lawyer can ask you questions as well. The offender will also be in the court when you are giving your evidence. In certain situations, a child witness under 12 may be able to give evidence outside the courtroom by video tape or video link. Please talk to the victim advisers about this.

If the police take your property for evidence, they have to return it to you after the case has finished.

I don’t want to be a witness, do I have a choice?

Usually, you will still have to be a witness even if you do not want to be. If one of the sides believes your evidence is essential, they can require you to be a witness. If you don’t turn up to court on the day, you could be arrested by the police and the police will take you to court. If you have concerns, you should talk to the Victim Support.

Do I have to give my evidence in front of everyone else?

Generally, you do, but the judge can decide you may not have to after the police talks with your carers or parents and you.

In certain situations, a child witness under the age of 12 can give evidence outside the courtroom by answering on videotape or in front of a video camera and a TV in a different room. You will see the judge and the lawyers on the TV and they will be able to see you too.

Sometimes the judge may need you to sit in the courtroom, but may let you have a screen so you don’t see the accused person.

If you’re scared or are worried about your safety, talk to the police before the court date.

 

What sort of financial assistance can I get as a victim of a crime?

You may get some financial help from ACC if you have been hurt medically.

There is also some financial assistance for victims of serious crimes. These could include things like:

  • transport to and from court;
  • funeral costs where appropriate;
  • counselling;
  • some of the costs of dealing with a serious crime.

Victims of sexual assault may also be eligible for assistance for:

  • costs of replacing clothing, emergency accommodation, and repairing or replacing damaged property for immediate needs after a crime;
  • funding of the victim and a support person to attend the trial
  • travelling costs;
  • relocation cost;
  • counselling.

I’ve lost money and property due to a crime, do I get it back?

You don’t automatically get repaid money to make up for what you have lost because of a crime. However, the judge can decide to order the offender to pay you money as part of their punishment if they’re found guilty. This is called ‘reparation’. If it’s property, if the item is still in the possession of the offender, that can be returned to you. As reparation, they may also be asked to pay you back the cost of the item if the item has been on-sold.

The amount of reparation depends on a number of things such as whether the offender has to pay other people too and the offender’s ability to pay.

I’m the victim of a crime, I don’t want the offender to contact me ever again, what can I do?

If you’re a victim of a serious violent crime, you can apply to the District Court for a non-contact order after the offender has been sentenced. This will prevent the offender from contacting you, including watching you, following you, contacting you by phone, email or letter.

The order usually lasts for 2 years unless the judge decides on a different time period.

I’m a victim and I don’t think I was treated correctly, where can I complain to?

If you don’t think that you have received all of your rights as a victim, you can complain to the department that didn’t treat you fairly. If you have a victim advisor, it would be helpful to try talking to them about the situation first, so they can help you.

You can also complain to:

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