Your rights and entitlements

Your rights and entitlements

This page provides information about your rights and entitlements as a victim of crime.

Making a Victim Impact Statement

If the accused person is found guilty or pleads guilty to the crime, you can make a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) telling the court about the impact of the crime on you.

The VIS is one of the things that the court will consider when deciding what sentence the offender should receive.

You can make a VIS if you are a victim of a crime. A victim is a person who suffers any of these things as a result of a crime:

  • injury
  • loss or damage
  • grief
  • distress
  • trauma
  • other significant adverse effects.

This means that a victim can be:

  • the person who was directly affected by the crime
  • family members (and in some cases friends) of the person who was directly affected by the crime
  • other people who witnessed the crime.

You can choose whether or not to make a VIS. You can also choose how the VIS is presented to the court at the plea hearing.

  • You can read your VIS aloud at the plea hearing.
  • The prosecutor can read the VIS aloud at the plea hearing.
  • The prosecutor can hand the VIS to the judge without reading it aloud.

There are rules about what you can include in your VIS. Your VIS should only be about how the crime has affected you.

If you include other types of information, some or all of your VIS might be inadmissible. This means that the judge is not allowed to consider the information in your VIS when deciding on the sentence.

Your OPP solicitor or VWAS social worker can:

  • provide you with general information about making a VIS and the types of information that would be inadmissible
  • refer you a victims’ services agency that can assist you to make your VIS.

Further information about how to make a VIS is available on the Victims of Crime website.

Compensation from the offender

Victims of crime may be able to apply for compensation from the offender by:

  • applying for a compensation order at the end of the criminal case
  • taking civil action against the offender.

You should consider seeking legal advice at an early stage about your options.

Applying for compensation at the end of the criminal case

If the offender is found guilty of the crime committed against you, you may be able to claim compensation from them.

You can apply to the sentencing court for an order to make the offender:

  • pay the value of any lost, damaged or stolen property
  • return you stolen possessions (this is called a restitution order)
  • compensate you for injuries, pain and suffering caused by the crime.

In some cases, the OPP can apply for compensation or restitution on your behalf. This application is usually made at the plea or sentencing hearing. However, if the offender opposes the application, the OPP cannot argue the application on your behalf.

If you are applying for compensation for pain and suffering, you must apply to the court within 12 months of the offending being found guilty or convicted of the crime.

Civil action against the offender for compensation

You may be able to bring a civil case for compensation against the offender whether or not they are found guilty. This is a separate legal process from the criminal case. The OPP is not involved in civil cases.

Getting legal advice

Compensation applications and civil actions involve complex legal processes. They will take time and cost money.

The OPP cannot provide legal advice to victims. You should seek independent legal advice about your options.

Important questions to consider are:

  • Will the offender be able to pay the compensation?
  • If the offender refuses to pay compensation, how much will it cost to enforce the order for compensation?
  • What are the costs involved in civil action?

Further information about applying for compensation from the offender is available here Victims of Crime.

If you need legal advice you can:

Financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

You may be entitled to financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).

VOCAT makes payments to eligible victims to help with things like:

  • counselling and medical expenses
  • safety related expenses
  • loss of earnings
  • funeral costs.

VOCAT does not provide compensation for lost or damaged property.

You can apply to VOCAT for financial assistance if:

  • a violent crime was committed against you in Victoria and you suffered an injury
  • you are a primary, secondary or related victim (see below)
  • you have incurred funeral expenses as a direct result of the death of a primary victim, but you are not related to the primary victim.

Primary victim

A primary victim is a person who is injured or dies as a direct result of:

  • a violent crime committed against them
  • trying to arrest someone who has committed a violent crime
  • trying to prevent a violent crime
  • trying to help the victim of a violent crime.

Secondary victim

A secondary victim is a person who is injured as a direct result of:

  • being present at the scene and witnessing a violent crime
  • becoming aware of a violent crime where they are the parent/guardian of the primary victim who was under the age of 18 at the time of the criminal act.

Related victim

A related victim is a person who at the time of the violent crime had a close relationship with a person who has died.

A close relationship with a person who has died means:

  • a close family member
  • a dependant
  • a person who was in intimate personal relationship.

How to apply to VOCAT

You can apply for financial assistance online at the VOCAT website.  Or you can request a hard copy application form from any Magistrates’ Court in Victoria.

You may wish to ask for help from a lawyer who specialises in VOCAT applications.

Your local Victims Assistance Program (VAP) can provide the names of lawyers in your area who may be able to assist you. To be put in touch with your local VAP, contact the Victims of Crime Helpline:

Open 8am–11pm, 7 days a week

Call 1800 819 817

Text 0427 767 891

Email vsa@justice.vic.gov.au

More information about how to apply for financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal is available here:

Financial assistance from the Transport Accident Commission

In cases involving culpable driving or dangerous driving causing death or injury, victims or their family members may be entitled to financial assistance from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).

Family members of someone who has died may be entitled to support for:

  • funeral expenses
  • counselling
  • home services
  • dependency benefits.

Victims who are injured may be entitled to support for:

  • medical treatment
  • services to help you while you recover
  • income support if you cannot work because of your injury
  • return to work support
  • a lump sum payment if you are eligible for compensation.

Further information about who can make a claim and how to make a claim is available on the Transport Accident Commission website.

You can make a TAC claim online or by calling 1300 654 329.

Victorian Victims Register – information about the offender

Victims can apply to receive information about offenders who have been sentenced to jail.

The Victims Register provides information to victims of violent crime about adult offenders while they are in prison.  The offender will not know that you are on the register or if you receive information about them.

You can get information about the offender if you or a family member has been affected by a crime such as:

  • assault
  • armed robbery
  • culpable driving
  • family violence
  • kidnapping
  • sexual offences
  • stalking
  • threats to kill
  • manslaughter
  • murder.

This includes information about when the offender is:

  • eligible for parole
  • released from prison on parole
  • released into the community after the end of their sentence
  • placed on a supervision order or detention order.

The Victims Register will also contact victims if:

  • the offender escapes from custody or dies while in custody
  • the Adult Parole Board is considering releasing the offender on parole.

You can find further information about making submissions to the Adult Parole Board below.

You can be placed on the Victims Register if:

  • the offender committed a violent crime against you or your family member
  • a family member has died because of the crime
  • you are a parent or care giver of a victim of a violent crime or sexual offence.

You may also apply to be on the Victims Register if you were not the victim of the crime for which the offender was imprisoned but you:

  • have a family violence intervention order in force against the offender
  • can show a documented history of the offender committing family violence against you
  • have a substantial connection to the crime (for example you were a prosecution witness in the court case).

You cannot be placed on the Victims Register if:

  • the offender has not been sentenced
  • the offender is a young person detained in a youth justice centre
  • the offender was not sentenced to a jail term
  • the offender is serving a sentence outside Victoria
  • the person was found not guilty because of mental impairment.

You can choose whether or not you want to be on the Victims Register

To apply for the Victims Register you need to fill out an application form.

You can complete the online application form or print an application form here Victims Register Online Form.

If you have questions or need help filling out the form, you can:

  • email VictimsRegister@justice.vic.gov.au 
  • talk to your Victims Assistance Program case worker if you have one
  • call the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817 and ask for the Victims Register.

Further information about the Victims Register is available on the Victims of Crime website.

Making submissions to the Adult Parole Board

If you are on the Victims Register and the Adult Parole Board is considering releasing the offender on parole, you will be asked if you would like to make a victim submission.

A victim submission must be in writing and can include:

  • concerns you have about the offender being released on parole
  • suggestions for parole conditions that could help improve your safety.

Your submission will not be given to the offender unless you agree.

Even if you are not on the Victims Register you may also make a written submission to the Adult Parole Board if you are:

  • a victim of crime
  • a family member of a victim
  • a person with an interest in the case.

However, you may not be given information about decisions made by the Adult Parole Board.

Your submissions will not be given to the offender unless you agree.

Complaints and feedback to the OPP

If you would like to raise an issue about a prosecution, your first step should be to contact the OPP solicitor. It may be possible for the OPP solicitor to resolve your issue quickly.

If the OPP solicitor is unable to resolve your issue, you can make a formal complaint.

Any person directly affected by an act, omission or a decision of the OPP may make a formal complaint. This includes:

  • victims of crime
  • family members of victims of crime
  • witnesses
  • defence solicitors
  • barristers
  • investigative agencies such as Victoria Police
  • the courts
  • accused persons
  • family members of accused persons.

Our Complaints and feedback page has information about:

  • how to make a complaint to the OPP
  • what will happen after we receive your complaint
  • how to provide feedback to the OPP.

Requesting reasons for prosecution decisions

The OPP must provide victims with reasons for any decision to:

  • substantially change the charges
  • discontinue a prosecution
  • accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge.

Victims may also request reasons for other types of prosecution decisions.

Witnesses and other persons with a legitimate interest in a case may also ask for the reasons behind a prosecution decision. For example:

  • why a case was discontinued
  • why a case was resolved a certain way
  • why the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to appeal against a sentence.

A request for reasons may be declined. For example, if giving reasons would prejudice a court case.

Requests for reasons can be emailed to director@opp.vic.gov.au or posted to:

Director of Public Prosecutions
PO Box 13085
Melbourne
VIC 8010

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