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


Chapter 4

1 Should the role of victims in the criminal trial process be that of protected witnesses, participating witnesses or prosecuting witnesses?

2 Could victims have different roles at different stages of the trial?

3 If changes to attitudes and behaviour are needed to achieve the intent of legislative reform, how might those changes be achieved?

Chapter 5

The role of victims

4 Should victims have a greater role in the decision to continue or discontinue a prosecution?

5 If a victim wants to withdraw their complaint, should this determine whether the prosecution continues?

6 Should a victim be able to require a prosecution to proceed where the DPP decides it should be discontinued?

7 Should victims have a greater role in the decision to accept a plea of guilty after plea negotiations?


8 Is there adequate consultation with victims before a decision is made to continue with charges, discontinue a prosecution or accept a plea of guilty after plea negotiations? If not, what additional consultation do victims require?

9 If the prosecution fails to consult with victims about a decision to discontinue a prosecution, or to accept a plea of guilty after plea negotiations, should this attract consequences? If so, what should those consequences be?

10 Should victims be given the opportunity to access legal advice or representation during any consultation with the prosecution?

Review of decisions

11 Should there be a way to review decisions made by the DPP or Crown Prosecutor to discontinue a prosecution or accept a plea after plea negotiations? If so, what mechanism might be used?

Alternative procedures

12 Should victims be able to pursue restorative justice or other alternative processes instead of, or at any point during, a traditional prosecution? Why, or why not?

Chapter 6


13 Should the prosecution be required to consult with victims before taking a position on a summary jurisdiction application or an application to cross-examine a witness, including the victim?

14 Are measures required to ensure that the prosecution fulfils consultation obligations?

The role of the victim in proceedings

15 Should victims have a role in relation to applications for summary jurisdiction or applications to cross-examine witnesses at a committal hearing?

16 Should victims have a role during the committal hearing? If so, what should this role be?

17 Should victims’ views be a relevant factor in the magistrate’s determination of an application to cross-examine the victim, or other witnesses? If so, how might victims’ views be communicated to the magistrate?

Protected-witness measures

18 Should the prohibition on child and cognitively impaired victims giving evidence at committal hearings in sexual offence matters be extended to all, or certain other, victims? If so, what criteria should this be based on?

19 Should the evidence of victims at committal hearings be video-recorded so that it can be played at the trial instead of victims giving oral evidence?

20 Should cross-examination of victims and other witnesses at committal hearings be replaced by earlier transfer of serious indictable offences to superior courts, with the examination of witnesses taking place in advance of the trial and before a trial judge?

Chapter 7

Role of victims—confidential communications

21 Are victims exercising their right to appear in relation to confidential communications applications? If not, why not and how might that be addressed?

22 Having regard to the practices in other jurisdictions, should victims have a greater role in pre-trial proceedings regarding confidential communications? Should the types of communications and the offences these proceedings relate to be expanded?

Role of victims—pre-trial proceedings generally

23 Should victims have a role in other pre-trial proceedings in which they have an interest? If so, what should be the test for determining whether victims have an interest?

24 If victims are given a greater role in pre-trial proceedings, should disclosure obligations be imposed on victims? What other obligations might be imposed?

25 How might any role for victims in pre-trial proceedings impact on or relate to the role of victims during the jury trial?

26 If victims are to have a participating-witness or prosecuting-witness role, should the state provide legal representation for victims?

Pre-trial restorative justices procedures

27 Should restorative justice procedures be available in the pre-trial phase of proceedings? If so, should any limits be placed on the use of such procedures?

Chapter 8

Protective measures

28 Are the protective procedures for the taking of evidence from vulnerable victims appropriate and effective?

29 Should the current protective measures for vulnerable witnesses be extended to other categories of victim, or to victims of other types of offence?

30 Are the existing evidentiary provisions being used, or enforced by judges, to prevent inappropriate questioning or to allow victims to give evidence in narrative form? Are there any further evidentiary reforms which might reduce victim re-traumatisation?

31 Should Victoria introduce an intermediary scheme? If so, for which victims? What functions should an intermediary perform?

Participatory and prosecutorial roles for victims

32 Should victims be able to participate during trial proceedings? If so, how and when might this participation be exercised? Who should provide representation?

33 Could victims be given a participatory or prosecuting role in Victoria similar to that provided for by the victim participation scheme of the International Criminal Court?

34 Are there aspects of inquisitorial trial procedures which could be adopted in Victoria?

Chapter 9

The victim’s role in sentencing and the purposes of sentencing

35 Should the victim have a greater role in sentencing? If so, what should that role be?

36 Should the purposes of sentencing explicitly include the needs and interests of victims?

Victim impact statements

37 Should further limits be placed on the publication and distribution of victim impact statements?

38 Should a broader group of victims be permitted to make victim impact statements?

39 Should community impact statements be introduced?

40 Should victims be permitted to make submissions in relation to sentencing?

41 What should be the role of the prosecutor in preparing victim impact statements?

Restorative justice sentencing procedures

42 Should restorative justice procedures be available as either an alternative or supplementary part of the sentencing process? If not, why not? If so, in what circumstances?

Chapter 10

43 Do processes set out in Part 4 of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) deliver on the aim of a swifter, less complex avenue for victim compensation? Are any changes needed to improve outcomes for victims?

44 Should there be a statutory presumption in favour of compensation and restitution in all cases?

45 How should the financial circumstances of an offender be taken into account under Part 4 of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)?

46 Should a victim be given the power to commence appeal proceedings in relation to a restitution or compensation order?

47 How should restitution and compensation orders be enforced?

48 Is there a need for restorative justice pathways as an alternative, or in addition to, Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) orders and VOCAT?

49 Are there offences not covered by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic) that should be?

Chapter 11

50 Should a victim have standing to seek leave to commence an interlocutory appeal? If so, should this be limited to circumstances where the ruling impacts on the personal interests or rights of the victim?

51 Should victims have a right to be consulted by the prosecution or to request that the DPP consider an appeal on any or all matters that the DPP is permitted to seek leave to appeal?

52 Should a victim have standing to participate in an interlocutory appeal commenced by the prosecution or the defence? If so, how and in what circumstances?

53 Should a victim have standing to participate in a post-verdict appeal commenced by the defence or prosecution?

54 Should the victim impact statement scheme as it applies in sentencing hearings also apply when the Court of Appeal re-sentences an offender?

Chapter 12

55 Could the obligations set out in the Director of Public Prosecutions Victoria’s Director’s Policy: Victims and Persons Adversely Affected by Crime, particularly obligations to consult, be strengthened by incorporating them into the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic) or other Victorian legislation?

56 Should the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic) be amended to include other rights, or broaden existing rights for victims?

57 Should victims have a legal right to enforce some or all of the rights contained in the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic)? If so, how might this be achieved, and in what circumstances?

58 Should there be a legislatively prescribed process for investigating and resolving complaints about breaches of victims’ rights? If so, what might this process look like? Should the Victims of Crime Commissioner in Victoria have a role in complaints resolution relating to breaches of the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic)?

59 What remedies should be available for breach of a victim’s rights?

Chapter 13

60 Are there gaps in the provision of victim support services?

61 How should victim support services be prioritised?

62 How might the delivery of victim support services in Victoria be improved?

63 Do victims need personalised legal advice and assistance? If so, how should such support be delivered?

64 What role could the Victorian Victims of Crime Commissioner have in relation to victim support services?