The Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) understands the immense stress and confusion that New Zealand’s Justice system causes Victims of Serious Violent Crime. It is not an easy system to navigate your way through. And adding to that pressure is that the various agencies you need to interact with, don’t generally work in together, making it even harder to ensure you are receiving the support and care you are entitled to.

We have collated this Victims Assistance Guide to help Victims navigate their way through the system.

We hope this guide will be of assistance in answering questions you may have in regard to all the different processes, agencies and legal terms when you are suddenly thrust into the Criminal Justice system.

For any further assistance please contact our leading Victims Assistance Team at SSGT.

SSGT Support (Victim Assistance Team)

Our Victim Assistance Team of Victim Advocates are here to help and guide you through the process. We are happy to attend court hearings, call-over hearings, sentence indication hearings, sentencings, parole hearings or any meeting needed with any agency you may need to speak with. 

We will assist you when your rights are not being upheld, or you feel you have not been treated fairly.

Some crimes, especially homicide cases or crimes involving high profile people attract a lot of media attention. Your SSGT Advocate will be able to assist you in dealing with the media and can be your spokesperson should you not wish to speak with them.

Who is a Victim of Crime?

Under the Victims’ Rights Act 2002, a victim of crime is anyone who has:

  • Had a crime committed against them, or suffered physical harm because of a crime committed by someone, or
  • Had property taken or damaged because of a crime committed by someone.
  • Parent or legal guardian of a victim who is a child or young person, as long as the parent or legal guardian has not been charged with the crime, or
  • The immediate family members of someone who dies, or can no longer take care of themselves, because of a crime committed by someone.

Victims' Rights & Entitlements

It is important to ensure the rights and entitlements of Victims and Victims’ families are upheld within the Criminal Justice system. The SSGT work tirelessly on behalf of the Victims ensuring their rights are upheld.

In this section:

Victim Notification Register (VNR)
Court Victim Advisor
Victim Support Services
Victims’ Rights Act 2002

Victim Notification Register (VNR)

If you are a victim of a serious crime, you can apply to go on the VNR Register at any stage after the person has been charged with an offence. 

The application form should be given to you by the police officer in charge of your case and they are responsible for verifying applications to be put on the Register.

If you are registered on the Victim Notification Register, you can receive information about the offender’s:

  • Parole Board hearings
  • Release dates
  • Temporary release from prison
  • Home detention
  • Hospital detention
  • Possible deportation of the offender

A parent or legal guardian of a child or young person under the age of 17 who has been the victim of an offence can apply to go on the Register. A child or young victim can apply to go on the Register once they turn 17.

You can nominate a representative to receive information on your behalf. If you nominate a representative only, they will receive the information. Tell your court victim advisor or the Department of Corrections if you want to receive the information instead of your representative.

 For further information on the VNR go to victimsinfo.govt.nz/staying-safe/the-victim-notification-register

Court Victim Advisor

If you’re a victim of a crime that is before the court, the police or the prosecuting agency will give your details to the court. A court victim advisor will then contact you and offer to assist you through the court process.

For further information go to victimsinfo.govt.nz/support-and-services/support-at-court/court-victim-advisors

Victim Support Services

Victim Support work in conjunction with the New Zealand Justice System. Through Victim Support you have the right to receive financial assistance for yourself, family members and a support person to attend hearings. You are also entitled to counselling which is to be arranged via Victim Support Should you feel you are not receiving all the entitlements please let your SSGT advocate know and we will follow up for you. For further information go to victimsupport.org.nz/get-help/your-help-lines

Victims’ Rights Act 2002

Victims’ rights only apply to victims of a crime that has been reported to Police or is before the courts.  The rights are part of the Victims’ Rights Act 2002. Victims also have rights under other laws, such as the Privacy Act 1993, the Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Sentencing Act 2002, the Bail Act 2002 and the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989. For further information go to legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2002/0039/latest/DLM157813.html All organisations that provide services to victims of crime aim to meet the standards set out in the Victims Code. But if you believe you haven’t been treated fairly then you have the right to make a complaint

Definitions of Court Processes Terminology

Bail

If someone is charged with an offence, they may apply for bail. Bail is when they are released from court or Police custody most likely on conditions, including that they return to court for their next required appearance.

Call-Over​

A call-over is a meeting where the judge and the lawyers for both sides discuss any pre-trial issues. If you are an unrepresented litigant, you must attend.

Case Review Hearing​

A case review hearing is held to examine whether a charge can be resolved without the need for a trial. For example, if the prosecution withdraws the charges against the accused/defendant, or if they plead guilty to the charges, there would be no trial.

If a trial is to occur, the case review hearing is also an opportunity for either party to highlight any matters that need to be resolved before the trial takes place.

Defence Counsel​

Lawyer for the defendant or accused.

Sentence Indication Hearing​

A statement by the court that provides the accused/defendant with an idea of the type and quantum (amount) of sentence they would be likely to receive for a charge(s), if they pleaded guilty to that charge. 

If a trial is to occur, the case review hearing is also an opportunity for either party to highlight any matters that need to be resolved before the trial takes place.

CRI​

Is a system generated unique reference number assigned to a proceeding that can contain numerous CRNs belonging to any number of defendants. A CRI is distinct from a CRN because a CRN is a unique number assigned to a specific and singular charge, not a proceeding.

If a trial is to occur, the case review hearing is also an opportunity for either party to highlight any matters that need to be resolved before the trial takes place.

CRN

A Court Record Number (CRN) is a unique number assigned to a specific and singular charge laid by the prosecutor.

A CRN is distinct from a CRI because a CRI is a system generated unique reference number assigned to a proceeding, not a specific and singular charge. A CRI can contain numerous CRNs belonging to any number of defendants.

If a trial is to occur, the case review hearing is also an opportunity for either party to highlight any matters that need to be resolved before the trial takes place.

On Remand​

After one court appearance the accused/defendant will be “remanded” to their next appearance.  This means they will either be:

  • remanded at large, which means they are free to go until their next appearance; or
  • remanded on bail, which means they are released on bail. There are usually conditions that they must comply with (such as having to live at a particular place, having no contact with the victim, or having to report to police regularly); or
  • remanded in custody, which means they are held in prison until their next court date

Following their court appearance, the accused/defendant will usually need to stay in court until the appropriate paperwork has been prepared for them to be remanded.

Pre-Sentence Report​

Discussion between prosecution and defence as to which charges (if any) a defendant is prepared to plead guilty to.

Stand Down

Adjourn (postpone) the case, usually briefly (until later the same day); it is often used by a Judge as an order to a defendant to leave the dock as the hearing is over for the day (adjourned until trial or sentencing perhaps).

Contempt of Court

Is the offence of being disobedient to, or disrespectful towards, a court of law and its officers.

Reserved Decision

Following the hearing of a case the judge may reserve their decision. This is when the judge defers giving the decision to a later date or time.

Name Suppression

In most cases, the media has the right to publish a person’s name if that person has been charged with an offence. In cases where publication of a person’s name might lead to undue hardship for that person or another person, the Court can grant either interim or permanent name suppression. 

Parole

Is a discretionary decision to release an offender from prison to serve the remainder of his or her sentence in the community on conditions supervised by a Probation Officer. If you are a registered victim on the Victim Notification register you can make a verbal or written submission to the Parole Board for them to consider at the parole hearing. SSGT Advocates can assist you with this. For further information go to paroleboard.govt.nz/about_us/faq/glossary

Department of Corrections

They manage prison sentences and other non-custodial sentences such as periodic detention, community service and supervision. They also support the parole Board and District Prison Boards, and provide information to the courts.

Crown Prosecutor

In New Zealand, a Crown Prosecutor is a lawyer appointed to prosecute criminal offences on behalf of the Crown. 

Category 4 Offence

A Category 4 offence such as murder or manslaughter, are the most serious offences. These offences are punishable by life imprisonment or by imprisonment for 2 years or more. They are heard by a Judge and jury in the High Court.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid provides Government-funded legal assistance to those who are unable to afford a lawyer. 

Victim Impact Statement

If you’ve been the victim of an offence, you have the right to tell the judge, through a victim impact statement, how the offence has affected you. The purpose of the statement is also to make sure that the defendant is aware of the effect of their offending from your point of view.

Day-to-Day Temporary Release

This is normally to go to a job outside the prison during the day and return to the prison at night. This is usually considered when a prisoner is coming close to the end of their sentence. This is normally granted if a prisoner has been progressing well on day-to-day temporary release

Temporary Release From Prison

Under certain circumstances prisoners may be able to get a temporary release. Release is granted on a case by case basis. Temporary release could be for a funeral, family visit or a home visit.

Temporary release is only granted when the prisoner is eligible and the release meets certain objectives. For example:

  • to assist in the prisoner’s rehabilitation and their successful return to the community, such as learning practical living skills in the community
  • the compassionate or humane treatment of the prisoner or their family, such as a funeral, family visit or a visit to a sick relative.

Home Detention

Home detention is both a punitive and rehabilitation sentence. It requires an offender to remain at a suitable and approved residence at all times and be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Offenders on home detention must also complete programmes designed to address the causes of their offending.

Services, Forms & Resources for Victims of Crime

Victim Impact Statement (VIS Guidelines)
victimsinfo.govt.nz/assets/Victim-Impact-Statements-2/Final-adult-jurisdiction-Nov-2014.pdf

Victim Impact State (VIS Form)

Victim Notification Register (VNR Form)
police.govt.nz/about-us/publication/victim-notification-register-victim-request-form

Acting on Behalf – Request an SSGT Advocate or Contact us

Police File Request
police.govt.nz/about-us/publication/request-official-information-form

The New Zealand Police
General Information for Victims of Crime
police.govt.nz/service/victims

Judiciary Complaint (Complaint Against A Judge)
jcc.govt.nz/pdf/Complaints-about-a-judge.pdf

Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA)
The Independent Police Conduct Authority is an independent civilian oversight body that considers complaints against the New Zealand Police and oversees their conduct. It derives its responsibilities and powers from the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act.
ipca.govt.nz

Victim Support 
Phone 0800 842 846 or 0800 VICTIM
victimsupport.org.nz

Women’s Refuge
Provides 24 hr Help 
0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
womensrefuge.org.nz

Rape Crisis and Sexual Violence Services 
If you go on 
their website, it gives you phone numbers for the different areas round the country.
rapecrisisnz.org.nz

It’s Not Okay (Family Violence Intervention Programme)
You can ring their Family Violence information line on 0800 456 450
areyouok.org.nz/i-need-help

Skylight Trust
Phone 0800 299 100
skylight.org.nz

Electoral Roll not everyone feels safe enough to have their details publicly available on the electoral roll, but that doesn’t mean they lose the right to vote. If you are eligible to enrol but believe that having your details recorded on the printed electoral roll could threaten your personal safety, or that of your family, you may request to go on the confidential unpublished roll.

Your enrolment details will be held securely by the Electoral Commission and not released to anyone. More Information Here (PDF).

Victims Right Act
The Victims’ Rights Act 2002
legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2002/0039/latest/DLM157813.html

The Victims’ Rights Act 2002
Provisions relating to treatment and rights of victims
legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2002/0039/latest/DLM157859.html 

ACC  
Phone the Customer Support Service on 0800 650 222
acc.co.nz

Work and IncomeFinancial Assistance
Find out if you are entitled to a grant or other services.
See 
their website for further information on financial support.
workandincome.govt.nz

Victim Support
Phone 0800 842 846 or 0800 VICTIM
victimsupport.org.nz

Victim Centre
Phone 0800 650 654 
victimsinfo.govt.nz

For Legal Advice
There are local Community Law Centres in most areas –  for information on phone numbers in your area visit their website.
communitylaw.org.nz

Legal Aid
Go to the www.justice.govt.nz website. As a victim of crime, you may be eligible for legal aid to assist you if you are going to a parole hearing. It is not an automatic entitlement so you have to apply to the Legal Services Agency. 
Head to 
their website for the phone number to ring in your area.
justice.govt.nz 

ACC 
For funded counselling go to the ACC website or phone 0800 650 222
acc.co.nz

Community Support Neighbourhood Watch 
Phone: 04 470 7022
ns.org.nz

For more information about services that may be able to assist you, please phone the Victims of Crime Information Line on 0800 650 654, visit victimsinfo.govt.nz or contact us.

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Do you want to make a difference?
Due to growing demand, the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) and Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) are on the search to grow our advocating teams.
I'm Interested
Thank You
We will be in contact with more information soon!
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