The Victims’ Rights Act ensures that if you’ve suffered harm, whether physical, emotional or financial, as a result of an offence you should be treated with courtesy and compassion and have your dignity and privacy respected. You should also receive help with meeting any welfare, health, counselling, medical or legal needs that you have as a result of the offence.
You have a right to information on…
The services and remedies available, such as:
- medical treatment
- financial or other assistance including the victim assistance schemes run by victim support
- legal protection
- other support agencies.
The progress of any investigation, including:
- any charges laid, or reasons for not laying charges
- how the accused/offender will be dealt with.
- Court proceedings, such as:
- the date and place of all court appearances, hearings and any appeals
- any bail conditions that have been set
- your role as a witness
- the result of any court proceedings.
A right to be heard on things like:
- whether the accused can have name suppression
- how the offence has affected you
- whether an offender should be granted parole or home detention
- whether the offender should be released on bail or not.
A right to be notified
In certain cases, you may be eligible to be part of the Victim Notification System. This means you will receive more detailed information about your case and the progress the offender has made through the criminal justice system. You can request that someone else receive this information on your behalf; however, that person must agree to this in writing.
Being enrolled in the system entitles you to:
- appear and make oral submissions to the New Zealand Parole Board
- be accompanied by one or more support persons, with the board’s permission your support person may speak in your support, or with your permission they may speak on your behalf.
You will automatically receive updates on:
- the time and place of the offender’s next parole hearing and / or hearing to consider the offender’s release to home detention, or final release
- when the offender is due for final release from prison or home detention
- the outcome of any of these hearings, including any terms or conditions the New Zealand Parole Board may set on release that relate to you or your family’s safety or to issues that you raised in your submission
- prior notice of any release or notice of escape of the offender
- notice of any conviction of the offender for a breach of the release conditions and any decisions to recall the offender
- when the offender is to be detained in, or discharged from a psychiatric hospital
- whether deportation of the offender is being considered.
You can also:
Request access to documents that may assist you in preparing any submissions you choose to make to the New Zealand Parole Board. This can include information about any programmes the offender has attended during the sentence and whether he or she completed the programme.
Your right to redress
The Victims’ Rights Act does not guarantee victims the right to compensation or restitution for the losses and harm they have incurred as a result of the offence. Victim Support runs funding schemes that do cover some of the costs dealing with serious crime – especially homicide. However, there is a degree of compensation available through ACC and a number of ways in which redress can occur through either the Courts or through Family Group and Restorative Justice Conferences.
Rights for victims of serious offences
Victims of serious offences have additional rights under the Victims’ Rights Act. These rights apply if:
- you are a victim of sexual violation or serious assault
- you were seriously injured
- the offence resulted in the death or incapacitation of someone in your immediate family
- you have ongoing and reasonable fears for your safety or the safety of anyone in your immediate family
For more information you can download copies of the full Acts: