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Policy position

Enhancing victim participation in the sentence indication process

Victims of crime should have greater involvement in the sentence indication process

The purpose of a sentence indication is to inform the accused of the sentence the court is likely to impose if they plead guilty.  

Having information about the impact on a victim is important at the sentence indication stage because after giving an indication, the court must not impose a more severe sentence than the sentence type or maximum total effective sentence indicated. 

However, considering victim impact at the sentencing stage is challenging for the courts because Victim Impact Statements are generally not available, and sentence indications can occur quickly, without a victim even being aware of a hearing taking place.  

Like many processes in the justice system, the sentence indication scheme is not centred on victims’ participatory needs. The Victims of Crime Commissioner (VOCC)  believes the sentence indication scheme does not have sufficient safeguards to uphold victims’ participatory rights.  

To address concerns about lack of consultation with victims regarding sentence indications, the VOCC recommends that the Victorian Government amend the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic) to ensure that: 

  • victims are informed about sentence indication applications or the possibility that a sentence indication may be given 
  • victims can provide information to the prosecution earlier in the process about the crime’s impact on them  

The VOCC also recommends that prosecutors be required to: 

  • advise the court whether there is sufficient, or insufficient, information about the impact on a victim to make a sentence indication 
  • obtain information about impact on a victim to put before the court at sentence indication stage. The form or format of victim impact information should be flexible.  

The statutory review of the sentence indication scheme should be independently undertaken and should involve engagement with victims whose matter has been subject to a sentence indication process as well as provide comprehensive data on the use of sentence indications.

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