The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process: Consultation Paper


Every victim matters.

From the commission of the criminal offence, victims undergo a pathway through the criminal justice process. Each victim’s pathway is intensely personal; and yet there are significant commonalities. Too often, the trauma suffered by victims is then compounded by their experience of the criminal trial process. There is an abundance of evidence that this is so.

The criminal trial process needs to respect the legitimate rights of accused persons. These should not be lessened or deflected. But the criminal trial process needs also to respect and fulfil the rights of victims and of the community. These sets of rights, properly viewed, are not exclusive one of the other. They are not in competition. They co-exist. Are victims’ rights properly respected and fulfilled in the criminal trial process in Victoria?

On 27 October 2014, the then Victorian Attorney-General, the Honourable Robert Clark MP, asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review and report on the role of victims of crime in the criminal trial process.

This unique reference calls for both a root and branch review of the current role of victims in the criminal trial process and a conceptual analysis of what that role should be. The issues raised by this reference are complex and have far-reaching implications for the operation of the criminal justice system in Victoria.

This consultation paper considers the theory and practice of the criminal trial process in Victoria and across domestic and international jurisdictions in relation to victims of crime. The paper poses the overarching question: ‘What should be the role of victims in the criminal trial process?’ It sets out specific questions regarding the role of victims at each stage of the criminal trial.

I warmly encourage anyone with an interest in the issues discussed in this paper to make a written submission to the Commission by 30 September 2015.

The Hon. P. D. Cummins AM


Victorian Law Reform Commission

July 2015

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