Victims of Crime
The criminal law process is fundamentally between the accused and the state. But there is increasing recognition of the importance of hearing victims and they are starting to have a greater voice and role in the legal process.
There is federal legislation and services to help victims.
For example, under the Criminal Code:
- the victim's safety must be considered in bail decisions;
- a victim's identity may be protected in appropriate circumstances;
- judges must consider victim impact statements and the harm to the victim; and
- offenders may be ordered to pay restitution (an amount of money to reimburse the victim for losses caused by the offender) as part of the sentence. They also have to pay a victim surcharge.
Victims are not allowed to decide if an appeal is brought or not because the process is between the accused and the state.
The victim can receive some information about an offender while that person is an offender if it is relevant to the victim's safety - for example, if the offender is released once a week for counselling. Even if the victim is not in harm's way, he or she could still be traumatized by seeing the offender shopping in the same neighbourhood. The victim's physical well-being and psychological safety are considered equally important.
The federal government and provinces work together on how victims are served. For example, Canada and the provinces agreed to a baseline set of principles that govern all policies and legislation called the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles.
The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights came into force in 2015 to improve the experiences of victims of crime across the country by creating, at the federal level, clear rights for victims of crime - a first in Canadian history. To read the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights in full, please visit the Justice Laws website. You can find out more about victim-related issues in Canada here. There are also many services available across the country for victims of crime - consult the Victim Services Directory to search for services by postal code and by type.
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