Principles that apply to prosecution agencies
The principles and sections within the Victims’ Charter that apply to prosecution agencies.
Treatment of persons adversely affected by crime
- All persons adversely affected by crime are to be treated with courtesy, respect and dignity by investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims' services agencies.
- Investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims' services agencies are to take into account, and be responsive to, the particular needs of persons adversely affected by crime, particularly needs relating to differences such as—
- race or indigenous background;
- sex or gender identity;
- cultural or linguistic diversity;
- sexual orientation;
Information to be given to persons adversely affected by crime
Investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims' services agencies—
- are to provide clear, timely and consistent information about relevant support services, possible entitlements and legal assistance available to persons adversely affected by crime; and
- if appropriate, are to refer persons adversely affected by crime to relevant support services and to entities that may provide access to entitlements and legal assistance.
Special treatment of victims
Investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims' services agencies are to—
- respect the rights and entitlements of victims as participants in proceedings for criminal offences; and
- so far as is reasonably practicable, take into account, and be responsive to, the particular needs of victims living in rural and regional locations.
Communication with victims
Investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims' services agencies are to take into account, and be responsive to, the following matters when communicating with a victim—
- whether the victim wishes to be contacted;
- the victim's preferred method of contact (which may vary at different stages throughout the proceeding for a criminal offence and according to the topic of communication);
- issues that affect the victim's ability to understand the information being communicated, including, but not limited to—
- the victim's understanding of English; and
- whether the victim has a disability; and
- whether the victim is a child.
Information regarding prosecution
The prosecuting agency is to give a victim, as soon as reasonably practicable, the following information—
- the offences charged against the person accused of the criminal offence;
- if no offence is charged against any person, the reason why no offence was charged;
- if offences are charged, any decision—
- to substantially modify those charges; or
- to discontinue the prosecution of those charges; or
- to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge;
- in the case of a prosecuting agency that is not the DPP, details about how to find out the date, time and place of the hearing of the charges against the accused person;
- in the case of a prosecuting agency that is not the DPP, the outcome of the criminal proceeding against the accused person, including any sentence imposed;
- if an appeal is instituted, the fact of the appeal, the grounds of the appeal and the result of the appeal.
Additional information regarding prosecution to be provided by DPP
The DPP is to take all reasonable steps to advise a victim of—
- the date, time and location of any contested committal hearing, trial, plea hearing, sentencing hearing and appeal hearing; and
- the progress of a prosecution, including the outcome of any committal mention, contested committal hearing, initial directions hearing, trial, plea hearing, sentencing hearing or appeal hearing, or guilty plea.
Views of victim to be sought by DPP
- The DPP is to seek the views of a victim before the DPP makes a decision to—
- substantially modify the charges; or
- discontinue the prosecution of the charges; or
- accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge; or
- appeal a sentence; or
- appeal an acquittal.
- The DPP is to give a victim information about the matters taken into account by the DPP in making a decision to—
- agree to or oppose an application to cross-examine the victim at a committal hearing; or
- apply for, agree to or oppose an application for summary jurisdiction .
- The DPP is not required to seek the views of a victim under subsection (1) or inform a victim under subsection (2) if—
- the victim cannot be contacted after all reasonable attempts; or
- it is not practical to contact the victim given the speed or nature of the proceeding.
DPP to give reasons for certain decisions
- The DPP is to give a victim, as soon as reasonably practicable, the reasons for any decision referred to in section 9(c).
- The reasons referred to in subsection (1) may be given either orally or in writing.
- Despite subsection (1), the DPP may decline to provide the reasons if the disclosure may jeopardise any investigation of a criminal offence or prejudice any other proceeding.
Applications for bail
- A prosecuting agency, on request by a victim, is to ensure that the victim is informed of—
- the outcome of any application for bail by the person accused of the criminal offence; and
- if bail is granted, any conditions imposed on the accused person by the court that are intended to protect the victim or family members of the victim.
Information about court process
- A prosecuting agency is to ensure that a victim is informed about the court process and the victim's entitlement to attend any relevant court proceedings, unless the court otherwise orders.
- If a victim is to appear as a witness for the prosecution, the prosecuting agency is to ensure that—
- the victim is informed—
- about the process of the trial or hearing (as the case requires); and
- about the victim's role as a witness for the prosecution; and
- that after the victim has given evidence, the victim may remain in the courtroom unless the court otherwise orders; and
- if relevant, about any special protections or alternative arrangements for giving evidence; and
- if relevant, the court is informed about the victim's preferences for the use of any special protections or alternative arrangements for giving evidence.
The Criminal Procedure Act 2009 contains a number of special protections and alternative arrangements for giving evidence.
- the victim is informed—
Contact between victim and accused in court building to be minimised
So far as is reasonably practicable, a prosecuting agency and the courts should, during the course of a court proceeding and within a court building—
- minimise a victim's exposure to unnecessary contact with the person accused of the criminal offence, defence witnesses and family members and supporters of the accused person; and
- protect a victim from intimidation by the accused person, defence witnesses and family members and supporters of the accused person.
Victim impact statements
- A victim of a criminal offence may make a victim impact statement to the court sentencing the person found guilty of the offence, and unless the court orders otherwise, that statement may be considered by the court in determining the sentence of the offender.
See Division 1C of Part 3 of the Sentencing Act 1991 in relation to victim impact statements.
- If a victim expresses a wish to make a victim impact statement, a prosecuting agency is to—
- refer the victim to an appropriate victims' services agency for assistance in preparing the victim impact statement; and
- give the victim general information about the types of material in a victim impact statement that the court may rule inadmissible and the consequences that may occur from that ruling.
- Despite subsection (2)(b), the prosecuting agency does not have a duty to advise the victim of the admissibility of a particular victim impact statement.
A victim's personal information, including his or her address and telephone number, is not to be disclosed by any person except in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.
Section 10 of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 provides that the Act does not apply in respect of the collection, holding, management, use, disclosure or transfer of personal information by a court, tribunal, judge, magistrate or registry staff in relation to their judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
Storage and return of property held by the State
If property of a victim is in the possession of an investigatory agency or a prosecuting agency for the purpose of the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence—
- the agency is to handle and store the property in a lawful, respectful and secure manner; and
- if possible and in consultation with the victim, the property is to be returned to the victim as soon as reasonably practicable.
Compensation and financial assistance for victims
- A victim may apply to a court for an order that the person convicted of or found guilty of the criminal offence that gave rise to the injury suffered by the victim pay compensation to the victim.
See Division 2 of Part 4 of the Sentencing Act 1991 in relation to applications for compensation for victims of crime.
- In accordance with the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 a person eligible under that Act may apply to the State for compensation and financial assistance.
Information regarding complaints process for persons adversely affected by crime
If a person adversely affected by crime informs an investigatory agency, a prosecuting agency or a victims' services agency that he or she believes that the agency has not upheld the Charter principles, the agency should inform the person about the processes available for making a complaint.
Complaints system for victims
- Each investigatory agency, prosecuting agency and victims' services agency must institute and operate a system to receive and resolve complaints from victims in respect of the agency's compliance with the Charter principles, including complaints made under section 19B.
- A complaints system referred to in subsection (1) must—
- be accessible and transparent; and
- offer fair and reasonable remedies.
Fair and reasonable remedies may include an apology, an acknowledgment that an error occurred, or an explanation as to why an error occurred and the steps being taken by the agency to prevent the error reoccurring.
- An investigatory agency, a prosecuting agency or a victims' services agency that is dealing with a victim must inform the victim, as soon as is reasonably practicable after commencing to deal with that victim, of—
- the agency's complaints system referred to in subsection (1); and
- the victim's right to have a complaint reviewed under the Victims of Crime Commissioner Act 2015 if dissatisfied with the agency's response to the complaint.
Victim may complain to agency
A victim may complain to an investigatory agency, a prosecuting agency or a victims' services agency if the victim believes that the agency has not complied with the Charter principles.
A victim may seek a review of the agency's response to the complaint under the Victims of Crime Commissioner Act 2015.