COVID-19 response for support at court for victims of crime
Q: Can I still receive support if I have been affected by a crime?
A: If you or your family or whānau have been affected by crime you can still get support to help you deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime. Support and information to help you understand the legal/judicial process can be provided by a Court Victim Advisor Information and can also be found on this website: http://www.victimsinfo.govt.nz/(external link). Victim Support can also provide you and your whanau with support.
Q: What is the difference between Victim Support and Court Victim Advisors
A: Victim Support’s free service provides someone to listen and talk with about what has happened, as well as practical support, information, financial assistance, referral to other support services and advocacy for the rights of victims. Their service is available 24 hours, seven days a week. For more information go to: https://www.victimsupport.org.nz/(external link) or call 0800 842 846.
Court Victim Advisors provide information to victims of criminal offences – including in the Youth Court - from the defendant’s first day in court, until sentencing and through any appeals. They can help you during the hearing, explaining how you can give evidence or helping you with your victim impact statement. This service is also free. For more information go to: http://www.victimsinfo.govt.nz/support-and-services/support-at-court/court-victim-advisors/(external link) or call 0800 650 654.
Q: How will I be informed of an upcoming court appearance?
A: If you're a victim of a crime that is before the court, the officer in charge or the prosecuting agency will continue to give your details to the court. A Court Victim Advisor will then contact you and offer to assist you through the court process.
Q: I have been informed that my case is going ahead yet no-one from the court has contacted me?
A: You are able to call the Victims Information Line on 0800 650 654 and ask to speak to a Court Victim Advisor in your area.
Q: How will I be able to participate?
A: You will discuss with the Court Victims Advisor how you would like to participate, whether that’s just listening in, reading your victim impact statement, or providing your views in a memorandum to the court through the Court Victim Advisor.
Q: Can I still be present at my hearing?
A: Yes, if you wish to be present for the hearing, the Court Victim Advisor will be able to provide you with login details to the Virtual Courtroom - this will likely be by teleconference, but if want to appear via Audio Visual Link too, you can make this request through the Victim Advisor. This request will require a Judges sign off. If you wish to be present via whichever method, the Court Victim Advisor will complete a court memorandum seeking approval from the court.
Q: Do I need special technology to call in?
A: All you need is a phone (cell phone or landline). If you are joining by teleconference, you will be provided with a phone number to call and from there you will be prompted to enter the meeting login details.
Should you be required to appear by Audio Visual Link, all you need is a device such as a cell phone, tablet, or laptop and an internet connection. You will need to download the Audio Visual Link app to your device.
Q: Will I be sent instructions, or will someone help me link in?
A: The Virtual Court details will be emailed to you. The instructions are very straight forward. If you’re attending via phone, call the number and then once prompted enter the meeting room pin followed by ‘#’. If you’re attending via Audio Visual Link, click on the link in the email, click the ‘Start Call’ and the enter the meeting room pin followed by ‘#’.
Q: Will people know I am there?
A: Yes, people will be made aware that you’re in attendance via teleconference or Audio-Visual Link.
Q: Can my family link in too?
A: No. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of attendees for Virtual Courtrooms.
Q: Will there be allocated a time slot?
A: Yes, the Court Victim Advisor you are liaising with will provide this information prior to the hearing
Q: Can I still read my Victim Impact statement?
A: Yes you can - please inform the Court Victim Advisor so that they can let the court know.
Q: Who else will be present?
A: There will be the Judge and Court Registrar from the Court. There will be a Prosecutor, which will most likely be Police and the defendant will be there along with their defence counsel. There may also be other participants present in the court like a probation officer (Forensic Nurse etc).
Q: Will someone contact me after the hearing even if I attend?
A: Prior to the hearing taking place your Court Victim Advisor will contact you and make a plan. That plan may be that following the hearing the Court Victim Advisor will ring you to debrief the hearing or another arrangement can be made.
Q: Can I record the session, so I can play it to my family?
A: No. The Virtual Courtroom is still regarded as an extension of the court and so a person will be liable for prosecution should any unlawful recordings be made or if suppressed information is made public without the explicit permission of the Court.
Q: Can my Victim Support worker attend?
A: Yes, your Victim Support worker can attend to support you if required. If this is the case please advise your Court Victim Advisor so they can make reference to this in a court memorandum to the Judge. The Judge will make a decision on this request. If the request is granted, the Court Registry Officer would then send the Court Victim Advisor the login details for the Victim Support worker.
Q. If I’m distressed by what’s happening, where can I go for help?
Victim Support can provide you with a Support Worker to listen and talk about what’s happened or what you are experiencing, including before or after the hearing. You can call Victim Support on 0800 842 846.
If your question hasn’t been answered by any of the above, please call 0800 650 654 and ask to speak to a Court Victim Advisor.