INTRODUCTION. Community resources that can help How and when to complete a victim impact statement

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1 INTRODUCTION No one expects to become a victim of crime. The London Police Service understands that whether you have been physically hurt, threatened or have been the victim of a property crime, you may need information to assist you. This brochure will provide you with information about: Common reactions to being a victim of crime Some things you can do that may help The Act Respecting Victims of Crime How to complete a Victim Impact Statement Criminal Compensation How the police and court systems work Crime prevention strategies to reduce the risk of being revictimized Community resources that can help How and when to complete a victim impact statement The Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit is the victim assistance unit within the London Police Service. It is staffed by professional counsellors who are available to help you with any questions you may have or if you are having difficulty. The London Police Service Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit (519)

2 COMMON REACTIONS Most people who have had their lives disrupted by crime experience normal physical and emotional reactions. Some of the things you may experience include: Physical difficulty falling asleep or waking often during the night change in your appetite backaches or stomach aches headaches fatigue Behavioural crying need to be alone/or surrounded by others emotional outbursts pacing Thinking difficulty concentrating replaying the event over and over in your mind nightmares blaming yourself or others who are not responsible Emotional anger panic anxiety sadness/withdrawal feeling overwhelmed fear guilt irritable

3 SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO THAT MAY HELP try to return to your usual routine talk to someone you trust try to get 8 hours sleep per night eat well balanced meals at regular times avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods drink lots of water exercise relax- spend time with the people you love, in place that make you happy avoid isolation pace yourself learn to say NO don t make any big life changes or decisions ask for help if things seem overwhelming A word about children Children who have been involved in a traumatic incident need the attention and close physical contact of their parents or caregivers: reassure them of their physical safety allow them to set their own pace try to keep routine as normal as possible encourage them to play and draw it is a way to cope with stress and anxious feelings take opportunities to listen and talk to you child talk about your own reactions with your child practice relaxation techniques with them If you need to talk to a professional counsellor, call Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit at

4 Standards for Victims of Crime in Ontario The people of Ontario believe that victims of crime, who have suffered harm and whose rights and security have been violated by crime, should be treated with compassion and fairness. Bill 23- An Act Respecting Victims of Crime The Act Respecting Victims of Crime, passed in 1995, clearly outlines the standards for how victims of crime should be treated in Ontario. These standards include the following: 1. Victims should have access to information about: Their role in the criminal justice system The services that are there to help How the investigation is progressing What charges were laid or the reasons why charges were not laid Any important court dates or decisions made by the court Any plea bargaining arrangements Any release conditions Any decision that is made about an accused who is found unfit to stand trial or who is not criminally responsible How to submit a Victim Impact Statement How to access Criminal Compensation 2. Victims should be notified if: The convicted person requests to be released or is to be released The convicted person escapes from custody

5 These principles are subject to: Availability of resources and information What is reasonable in the circumstances of the case What is consistent with the law and public interest What is necessary to ensure that the resolution of the criminal proceedings is not delayed. Criminal Injuries Compensation The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was set up to compensate victims of violent crimes. You may be eligible for compensation if: o You are a victim of a violent crime o You take care of a victim of a violent crime o You are the dependent, spouse, or relative of a victim who has died. For more information or to obtain an application form, contact: Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, or online at If your child is required to attend court The Child Witness Project offers services to child witnesses that include pre-court preparation, advocacy and referrals. Children are given information about how the court works, how to reduce their anxiety about testifying, and are supported emotionally throughout their court experience. For more information about the Child Witness Project call (519)

6 VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT An Information Guide What is a Victim Impact Statement? The purpose of the Victim Impact Statement is to let the judge, Crown Attorney, defence lawyer and accused know how you were affected by the crime. Who may complete a Victim Impact Statement? Anyone who is a victim of a crime may complete a Victim Impact Statement. If the victim is unable to complete a form, or has died, a family member may complete the statement instead. If you are having difficulty with your Victim Impact Statement (or the victim is a child), family members, friends or other support people may help. It is important to remember that this is your statement and that it should be written in your own words. Why should I complete a Victim Impact Statement? No one better than you can help the court understand how this crime has affected you. The Victim Impact Statement gives you a voice at the sentencing hearing to express your feelings about the changes you have experienced as a result of the crime. While you have the opportunity to complete a Victim Impact Statement, you do not have to fill out this form. Completing the Victim Impact Statement is voluntary. You may complete only part of the form. You may feel that some of the sections are not as important or you may feel uncomfortable about filling them out. You do not have to fill out these parts. However, if you want to fill out sections but do not know how to describe how you feel, you

7 should ask a family member, friend or other support person to help you. How will my Victim Impact Statement be used? The judge will decide the appropriate sentence. He or she will consider your Victim Impact Statement when deciding the sentence. The judge can read your Statement or if you would like, you can read your Statement in the court. Please let the Crown Attorney know as soon as possible if you would like to be at the sentencing hearing and if you would like to read your Victim Impact Statement in court. After you have returned your completed Victim Impact Statement to the investigating Officer or Crown Attorney, copies will be made for the accused and his/her lawyer. The defence lawyer may ask you questions (cross-examine you) about your Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing hearing. Once your Statement is in the court file, it is part of the accused s record and may be seen by probation officers or by the Ontario or National Parole Board. In some cases, the Victim Impact Statement may be seen by the media. When should I complete my Victim Impact Statement? The Victim Impact Statement is not required by the court until after a finding of guilt, however each prosecution is different and if you have any questions about when to complete your statement you should contact the investigating officer or Crown s office. How do I complete the Victim Impact Statement? Usually, the statement is prepared in writing on the form provided by the Crown, police or Victim/Witness Assistance Programme. In exceptional circumstances the Statement can be provided orally or by videotape.

8 The Victim Impact Statement is to be written in your own words. You may use extra pages for your Statement or complete only as much as you want. It is important that you put your name and who you are in relation to the case on the Victim Impact Statement, e.g. victim, relative of the victim. The accused will not be able to see your address and telephone number because you are not asked to put them on your Statement. It may be difficult for you to put into words the effect this crime has had on you and those close to you. The following suggestions are offered only as a guide. If you would like to tell the court about the emotional impact or harm this crime caused, you may want to consider: Has the crime affected your lifestyle? Have your feelings about yourself or your life changed since the crime? Has your ability to relate to others changed as a result of the crime? Has the crime affected your ability to enjoy activities that you previously enjoyed? Has the crime affected how you feel about your personal safety and the safety of those around you? Has the crime caused you to change your eating or sleeping patterns? Has the crime affected your ability to perform at work or at school? Has the crime affected your general emotional well-being? If you or your family members were injured, you may wish to tell the court about the physical impact of this crime. You may wish to: Describe the physical injuries you or members of your family suffered. Describe how long these injuries lasted or how long they are expected to last.

9 Describe any medical treatment you have received or expect to receive in the future. Describe the effect the injuries have on you and your lifestyle. You may want to discuss the financial impact of this crime. You may be required to bring receipts and/or proof of medical expenses. To describe the financial impact of this crime, you may wish to describe: Any personal belongings or personal property lost, destroyed, or damaged as a result of this crime and their monetary value. Any medical expenses resulting from the crime. For example, medications, physical therapy, counselling, medical supplies, glasses, hearing aids, etc. Any lost wages or income because you were unable to work because of the crime, had doctor or therapy visits, or attended court. Please note that providing information about the financial impact of a crime may not necessarily lead to payment for your losses or expenses through the criminal justice system. You may be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board or through other legal proceedings. A Crown Attorney, or Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff person or police officer may be able to provide you with information to assist you. Please remember that the Victim Impact Statement is about you, not the accused. Please focus on providing a description of the impact of the crime on your life. Quite understandably, emotions run high in these situations but it is important not to include vengeful comments, criticisms or rumours about the accused. Such comments will not assist the judge and may detract from your statement.

10 Please indicate any probation conditions that would be helpful for you in your Victim Impact Statement, including if you do or do not want contact with the accused. Please indicate any concerns you have about your personal safety. Please do not include suggestions about the sentence. Please try not to describe the crime in your Victim Impact Statement. The judge has already found the accused guilty based on what has been found to have occurred. Therefore, it is not helpful, at this point, to offer more information about the circumstances of the offence. May I update my Victim Impact Statement? If you have new information about the effects of the offence, you may update your Victim Impact Statement by contacting the police or Crown Attorney responsible for the case. For more information about your Victim Impact Statement, or if you feel you would like help in completing a statement, please contact: Victim/Witness Assistance Programme (519) or London Police Services Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit (519)

11 UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM Definitions: Police: The police are usually the first people victims encounter. The role of the police is to investigate the crime. They determine what action needs to be taken after a crime. They may: Warn the accused Lay a charge once a charge has been laid, neither the victim nor the police can have it withdrawn Arrest the accused Recommend that an accused be held in custody for a bail hearing or released on an undertaking (conditions) Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit is the victim assistance unit within the London Police Service. Consultants are professional counsellors with special training in trauma who are available to provide crisis intervention services for individuals and families seven days per week. Victim/Witness Assistance Programme: This service is located at the Court House on 80 Dundas Street, London. They assist victims of violent crime throughout the court process. They may: Provide you with up-to-date information about your case Give you a tour of the Court House Prepare you to testify Liaise with the Crown Attorney s office Help you with your Victim Impact Statement Help you with your Criminal Compensation documents. Crown Attorney: The Crown Attorney is the lawyer who works on behalf of the government to prosecute those accused of a crime. It is the Crown Attorney s duty to present all of the relevant and admissible evidence to the Judge. The Crown Attorney is not the victim s lawyer.

12 Defence Counsel: The Defence Counsel is the lawyer who acts on behalf of the accused person. It is the Defence Counsel s job to represent the accused s best interests at trial and at the sentencing hearing if there is a finding of guilty. Judges: The Judge is the person responsible for the conduct of the trial, ensuring that the rules of the court and evidence are followed. It is the Judge s job to make findings of fact and law if there is not jury, and to make all rulings of law if there is a jury. In non-jury trials, the Judge alone will determine the verdict. The Judge is responsible for deciding the appropriate sentence. Justice of the Peace: The Justice of the Peace is an officer of the court but is not a Judge. They have limited authority. They can issue warrants, summonses, and may also preside over bail hearings. The victim may speak with a Justice of the Peace to have a charge laid under certain circumstances (a process referred to as laying a private information ). Undertaking: An undertaking is an agreement between the accused and the court system. It defines the conditions under which the accused will be released while they wait for their court date. The Officer in Charge of the London Police Service detention facility has the authority, in some cases, to release an accused on an undertaking. Bail Hearing: This is the hearing that will determine if the accused will be released from custody, and if so, under what conditions. The Judge or Justice of the Pace will hear the evidence presented by the Defence Counsel and the Crown Attorney in order to make their decision. Preliminary Hearing: This is a hearing, before a Judge, to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a trial. A victim may be required to testify at the preliminary hearing.

13 Plea Bargaining: This is a process of negotiation between the Crown Attorney and the Defence Counsel. The accused accepts responsibility for the offence in exchange for an agreed upon sentence. When the Defence Counsel and Crown Attorney can agree on issues of guilt and sentence, it can have benefits for the victim. Victims will not have to endure a long trial or testify. The number of cases awaiting trial is reduced which ensures that cases requiring trials will be heard faster. The Crown and Defence lawyers present this agreement to the Judge who may or may not accept it. Trial: A trial is a hearing where the Crown Attorney and the Defence Counsel present all the relevant evidence. The court (Judge or Jury) determines if the accused is guilty or not guilty. Victims may be required to testify. Sentencing: The Judge is responsible for imposing sentence if an accused person is found guilty of an offence. This may be done right away, but most times a future date is set so that all factors, including a Victim Impact Statement and a pre-sentence report can be considered. Adjournments: The court can reschedule or adjourn court appearances and hearing dates at the request of the Crown Attorney or the Defence Counsel for many reasons, such as the need to obtain more information. Evidence: Evidence is any fact, observation, or thing which relates to the issues that are before the court. Evidence is presented by witnesses and victims who are sworn to tell the truth. Victims and witnesses relate to the court what they saw, heard, or otherwise experienced about the events which are before the court. Conditional Sentence: A conditional sentence allows the offender to serve their sentence in the community. The Judge will provide the conditions that the offender must abide by while serving their sentence.

14 Extrajudicial measures: The Youth Criminal Justice Act allows the police to consider using alternatives to charging a young offender, such as warning or referrals to community agencies that will assist the young person. Extrajudicial sanctions: The Youth Criminal Justice Act allows the Crown to refer young offenders who have been charged with an offence for out of court measures, such as participation in Youth Justice Committees.

15 1. Crime is reported STEPS IN THE JUDICIAL PROCESS 2. Police investigate the crime: a. Charge is not laid OR b. Charge is laid 3. If Charge is laid: a. Appearance notice is given and a court date is set OR b. Arrest is made and bail hearing date is set 4. If there is a Bail Hearing: a. Accused is held in custody until court OR b. Accused is released on conditions and a court date is set 5. Appearance in Court: a. Accused pleads guilty OR b. Accused pleads not guilty and a trial date is set 6. Trial: a. Accused is found not guilty OR b. Accused is found guilty 7. If Accused pleads or is found guilty: a. Pre-sentence report is completed b. Victim Impact Statement is completed c. Sentencing Hearing

16 CRIME PREVENTION Victim Opportunity Offender For a crime to occur, three elements must be present: there must be an offender, a victim, and the opportunity to commit the offence. Although you have limited control over being selected as a victim, or to control the offender s behaviour, you do have some measure of control over how easy it is for the crime to be committed you can influence the opportunity. There are a number of things that you can do to your home, and within your community to reduce the incidence and the fear of crime and to improve your overall quality of life. If you would like more information about crime prevention strategies, please call: London Police Service Crime Prevention Officer (519) NOTE: For crime prevention information about woman abuse crimes, please refer to the back page of this booklet.

17 RESOURCES Police/Legal Information London Police Service Emergency - Call Dundas Street Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit 601 Dundas Street Crown Attorney 80 Dundas Street Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) 80 Dundas Street Additional Victim Support Services Victim/Witness Assistance Programme 80 Dundas Street Child Witness Project 254 Pall Mall Street, Suite Criminal Injuries Compensation Board Victim Information Service (notification of Federal offences)

18 Victim Support Line (notification of Provincial offences) Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Services Women s Community House 101 Wellington Road Abused Women s Helpline Violence Against Women Services Elgin County 300 Talbot Street, St. Thomas Women s Rural Resource Centre 145 Beech Street, Strathroy Counselling Number: Shelter Number: At lohsa Native Family Healing Services 343 Richmond Street, Suite Zhaawanong Shelter 256 Hill Street London Abused Women s Centre 217 York Street, Suite

19 Sexual Assault Centre London 379 Dundas Street, Unit 121 Crisis Phone: or Office Phone: Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre, St. Joseph s Health Care 268 Grosvenor St ext Counselling Services Family Services Thames Valley 125 Woodward Ave London Interfaith Counselling Centre 141 Dundas Street, 6 th Floor Changing Ways 388 Dundas Street, Suite 302B Crisis Services London Mental Health Crisis Service 862 Richmond Street

20 London and District Distress Centre Box 801, Station B Crisis Line: Seniors Helpline: Children s Services Children s Aid Society of London and Middlesex 1680 Oxford Street East After regular business hours call: Merrymount Children s Centre 1064 Colborne Street Child Witness Project 254 Pall Mall Street, Suite Kid s Helpline Hospitals London Health Sciences Centre Victoria Campus 375 South Street University Campus 339 Windermere Road Children s Hospital 800 Commissioners Road East St. Joseph s Health Care 268 Grosvenor Street

21 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT PROCESS EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM The Domestic Violence Court Process was developed to reduce the repeat victimization of women by their partners. The Early Intervention Program (EIP) allows for certain cases of woman abuse offences to be handled as quickly as possible through the court system. The goal of this program is to ensure the victim s safety, to support victims, and to hold offenders accountable. If this is a first offence, no weapon was used, and you were not seriously physically hurt, at the discretion of the Crown Attorney, your partner MAY be eligible for the EIP. Remember: Your views will be considered by the court You always have access to court and community services which can provide you with on-going support. If your partner Accepts responsibility for his actions and pleads guilty to the crime and Agrees to successfully complete a counselling program And Your partner has access to a partner assault program where he may learn how to avoid repeating his abusive behaviour. If all the conditions have been met, your partner may receive a conditional discharge and not have a criminal record. The Victim/Witness Assistance Programme will be in touch with you soon if your case is being considered for the EIP. If you have any questions, please contact: Victim/Witness Assistance Programme

22 If you are an ABUSED Woman TAKE ACTION Call the Abused Women s Helpline Take Action If you are in danger, CALL Create a safety plan for yourself and your children Bring your children with you if you leave Keep health cards, bank cares, legal papers, spare house and car keys, emergency money, an ID, for you and your children with you Tell supportive family and friends of your plans Keep this booklet in a safe place

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