Rights of victims in the criminal justice system

The Victims’ Charter, with the goal of empowering victims by providing in their needs, be it material or emotional, is discussed in Chapter 3. In this chapter, the focus is on the rights and obligations with respect to services to victims of crime after the case has been referred to the court.

If you are a victim of crime, you have certain rights, as contained in the Victims’ Charter. The prosecutor must:

  • treat you fairly and with respect to protect your dignity and privacy
  • provide information
  • receive information
  • protect you
  • assist you

You have the right to ask why the prosecutor made certain decisions. You may also complain if you feel your rights are not being respected (see 4.6). When a person is accused the case is referred to the court, where the prosecutor accepts responsibility for the prosecution in the case. The prosecutor will weigh up the facts of each case thoroughly.

The prosecutor can do one of three things:

  • decide that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute and then proceed with prosecution
  •  decide that more information is needed to make an informed judgement and therefore instruct the investigating officer to investigate the case further
  • for various reasons, such as public interest, decide to withdraw the charge

The prosecutor will take the victim’s interest into consideration with any of these decisions and could also decide to change the charges, depending on the facts of the case. Unless the complainant proves “guilt beyond reasonable doubt”, the accused may be dismissed.

You may expect a speedy and efficient process, which will ensure that the case will get to court as soon as possible. You can expect the prosecutor to request all information related to the bail proceedings from the investigating officer and present it to the court. This is done in order to ensure that the decision to grant or refuse bail to the accused is taken with the victim’s best interests and protection in mind.

Before the prosecutor accepts a plea of guilt, he will take the victim’s interests, as well as those of his or her family, into consideration.