The Sentencing Act 1991 requires the impact of the crime on victims to be taken into account during sentencing.
The court must consider:
- the impact of the offence on any victim of the offence
- the personal circumstances of any victim of the offence
- any injury, loss, or damage resulting directly from the offence.
Victim Impact Statements
One way a court can determine the impact of a crime on a victim is through a Victim Impact Statement (VIS). The Victim Impact Statement may be partly or wholly read or presented to the court at sentencing. The statement may include photographs, drawings, poems, and other material relating to the impact of the offence on the victim.
A Victim Impact Statement does not directly affect a sentence, but it helps complete the picture of the crime for the sentencing judge or magistrate.
Introduced in 2006, the Victims Charter sets out principles for the treatment of victims of crime by criminal justice agencies. Under the Charter, victims have a right to prepare a Victim Impact Statement.
Under the Victims Charter, the victim of a violent crime committed by an adult offender may apply to be placed on the Victims Register so that they are informed of the offender’s parole or release.
Resources for People Affected by Crime
The official Victorian Government website for people affected by crime is Victims of Crime. The website provides information about the court process and the support services available to help people manage the effects of crime.
The Victims of Crime Commissioner is responsible for improving services and systems to meet the needs of victims of crime. The Commissioner reviews issues that are likely to be ongoing, affect many victims and relate to specific government departments, agencies, victims service providers or the justice system. The Victims of Crime Commissioner website includes information on the types of issues that the Commissioner investigates and how to report an issue.
The Judicial College of Victoria has produced Victims of Crime in the Courtroom: A Guide for Judicial Officers. The guide looks at how judicial officers and court staff can influence a victim's experience of the justice system in Victoria.
Victims of Crime Helpline
The Victims of Crime Helpline provides advice and support for people affected by crime. Call 1800 819 817 (or text on 0427 767 891) between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week.
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