If you have been the victim of a crime, you may be feeling vulnerable or fear for your safety. If you are worried that the accused may threaten or harm you or your family, you can speak to the police informant about how best to deal with this.
The accused may try to contact you for a variety of reasons. They may want to explain their actions or to threaten or scare you. It is important to avoid having any contact or communication with the accused, or anyone connected with them, as this may have a negative impact on any upcoming legal proceeding. There are other means by which an accused should comminicate. The accused should communicate through their lawyer.
If the accused tries to contact you, you should tell the police informant, particularly if they are threatening you or your family.
When a person is charged with a serious offence, they are taken into custody while they wait for the charges to be heard by the court. This is referred to as being on ‘remand’. Any person on remand can apply for bail.
If bail is granted the accused is able to stay out of custody if they agree to appear in court when required and comply with any conditions set by the court. These may include regularly reporting to police, staying at a particular address and not having any contact with witnesses or their family members.
Your views can be taken into account by the judge in deciding whether to grant bail. If you have particular concerns about the accused being granted bail you should contact the police informant as soon as possible after the accused person is charged.
You can contact the police informant if you want to be notified about the outcome of any bail hearing and any relevant conditions.
If you believe that the accused has breached any of their bail conditions you should tell the police informant immediately.
An intervention order is a court order made by a magistrate to help protect you from another person.
You can apply to the Magistrates' Court for an intervention order to protect you if a person has:
assaulted or threatened to assault you
damaged or threatened to damage your property
harassed you or behaved in an offensive way, or
caused you to fear for your safety or that of your family or another person.
To apply for an intervention order, you need to contact your local Magistrates’ Court for an appointment.
For advice and help applying for an intervention order, you can call the Victims of Crime Helpline.
For a free booklet about applying for an intervention order, you can contact Victoria Legal Aid.
Protection in court
Under the Victims’ Charter, you are entitled, as far as possible, to be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused, their family and defence witnesses while you are in court.
Some courts have special waiting rooms for witnesses who may feel scared or vulnerable when waiting to go into the courtroom.
The court may allow for special arrangements where vulnerable witnesses are required to give evidence. These include children, mentally impaired witnesses, and victims and witnesses in sexual offence and family violence matters.
Special arrangements include:
having a friend or relative sitting beside you in court while you give evidence, provided that this support person is not also appearing as a witness
having a screen in the court, so you do not have to see the accused person while you give evidence
having the court closed to the public while you give evidence
giving your evidence via closed circuit television from a room separate to the court room, which is called a remote witness facility.
If you have concerns about being in court, you can talk to someone from the Witness Assistance Service or Court Network before attending court.
Witness protection program
Witnesses who are at considerable risk of harm because they have provided assistance or been involved in a criminal investigation may be eligible for the Witness Protection Program.
The Witness Protection Program is run by the Victoria Police Witness Security Unit. The unit is able to take any action that is necessary and reasonable to protect the safety and welfare of a witness, their partner or a member of their family. This may involve temporary or long-term relocation.
In most cases people are referred to the Witness Protection Program by investigators but you can contact the Witness Security Unit for more information and to find out if you are eligible.