Court support for victims of crime
Going to court can be stressful, especially if you do not understand the legal process.
Knowing what you need to do, where you can get help and what is expected of you will reduce that stress.
If you have been a victim of an offence that has been referred to the Mental Health Court, some information below may not be relevant to your circumstances. Contact Queensland Health Victim Support Services for information and advice.
Going to court as a witness
If you have seen or know about a crime, the information you give in court will help the judge, magistrate or jury decide what happened and what should be done. Your evidence is important.
Support during the court process
The Victim Coordination Program helps victims of violent crime through the court process. This might include referring you to agencies that may be able to give you practical support.
The help can include:
- helping you prepare for court
- going to court with you
- explaining what happens in court.
Contact Victim Assist:
Search for a support service in your area.
Understanding how the courts work
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions acts for the state, taking legal action against people charged with criminal offences
These cases are heard in the District, Supreme, Mental Health courts, the Court of Appeal, High Court of Australia and the Magistrates Court.
As a victim of crime, you can expect government officers and victim service agencies, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to follow the Charter of Victims' Rights.
These principles include:
- treating you with courtesy, compassion and respect
- limiting the contact you have with the offender in court
- telling you about your rights
- explaining what is required of you as a witness
- letting you tell the court about the harm done to you—and make a victim impact statement.
Read more about:
Victim impact statements
If you are the victim of a violent crime you can tell the court how the crime has affected you.
There are 3 ways to do this:
- The prosecutor can speak to the court on your behalf.
- The prosecutor can call you as a witness, so you can tell the court about the crime.
- You can make a written victim impact statement, which you may have the chance to read out to the court.
The written victim impact statement can explain how the crime has harmed you and affected your life. It can:
- include supporting documents like medical reports, photographs or drawings
- be written by someone else on your behalf if you can’t write it yourself.
You do not have to make a victim impact statement if you don’t want to.
Support after the offender is sentenced
If the offender has been sentenced to prison or to a correction centre, you are entitled to apply for information about their sentence.
This can include:
- details of the prison or correction centre where they are held
- their security classification
- when they apply for parole
- when they are eligible for release.
You must be on a victims register to get this information.
There are 2 information registers depending on the age of the offender:
Other legal services
Youth justice conferencing
A youth justice conference is one sentencing option which a magistrate may order. It is only for offenders aged under 17.
A youth justice conference is attended by those affected by the crime including the victim (if they choose to attend), police, and the young person’s family, teacher, guidance officer or other support person.
A youth justice conference lets the victim tell the young person how they feel and how the crime has affected them.
It also gives the young person a chance to take responsibility for what they have done.
Adult restorative justice conferencing
Sometimes a face-to-face meeting between the offender and the victim can help.
An adult restorative justice conference is attended by those affected by the crime, including the victim, the person who caused the harm, and their respective communities of support.
An adult restorative justice conference lets the victim tell the adult who caused the harm how the crime has affected them. The victim can also be involved in deciding the best way for the adult to repair the harm that was caused.