Summary of victims' rights

What are a victim's rights?

Victims' Rights Act 2002; Parole Act 2002, s 49(4)

If you've been the victim of a criminal offence, you have a number of rights that are intended to provide you with support, information and assistance when you're dealing with the police and throughout the court process. You'll also have the right to make your views known at certain points during the process.

Your rights include the following:

  • Courteous treatment – the right to be treated with courtesy and compassion
  • Dignity and privacy – the right to have your dignity and privacy respected
  • Access to services – the right to have access to welfare, counselling, medical and legal services that are responsive to your needs
  • Support – the right to have a support person
  • Information – the right to be told:
    • about the progress of the police investigation, including whether charges have been laid, and to be told the reasons if no charges are laid
    • when and where each court appearance or hearing will be held
    • about your role as a witness in the case
    • whether the defendant has been released on bail and what the bail conditions are, but only if it's a case involving a sexual or violent offence and you've told the police in advance that you want to be notified
    • the outcome of the case, including the sentence if the defendant is convicted and the outcome of any appeals
    • whether you can apply for a court order banning anyone from publishing details that would identify you, and how to apply for these orders.
  • Having a say – the right to:
    • have your views about releasing the defendant on bail put to the judge, if the case involves a sexual or violent offence
    • provide a victim impact statement and have the judge take this into account when deciding on any sentence for the defendant (see below, “Victim impact statements”)
    • participate in Parole Board hearings or meet with a Parole Board member, if the offender is going to be considered for release from prison.

Non-contact orders: Avoiding contact from the offender after cases of serious violence

Victims' Orders Against Violent Offenders Act 2014, ss 7, 10, 11, 14, 24

Victims of serious violent offences can apply to the District Court for a non-contact order against the offender after the offender has been sentenced. The order prevents the offender from doing things like watching or hanging around your home or work, following or stopping you in the street, or contacting you by letter, phone, email or any other way.

If the offender does any of these things, they can be jailed for up to two years or fined up to $5,000. The order lasts for two years, unless the judge decides on a different period.

Victims of young offenders

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 321, Schedule 1 (cl 3A)

Most of the rights in the Victims' Rights Act 2002, listed above, apply also to victims of offences or alleged offences committed by young people and dealt with under the youth justice laws (see for more information).

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