Information for Victims
The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights defines a “victim” as:
- the victim of the offence or alleged offence;
- their family members and loved ones;
- a dependent;
- a person responsible for the victim (such as a legal guardian); or
- a person responsible for the dependent of the victim.
It does not include the accused.
This definition includes victims of both not criminally responsible (NCR) and unfit to stand trial (unfit) accused. Under s. 672.5 (15.2), when a court makes a verdict of NCR, the Review Board is required to make an inquiry of Crown counsel about whether any victims or representatives of victims wish to be involved in the Review Board process. Below is a description of the rights and involvement both victims or representatives of victims may have.
Under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, a victim or representative of a victim may request two types of information:
- General information about the Review Board, your role in the Review Board process, the services and programs that may be available, as well as information about your right to file a complaint if you believe that your rights have been infringed or denied.
- Information about hearings held for the purposes of making dispositions, as well as the dispositions themselves.
If you would like to request information about an accused’s hearing or disposition (either one time or ongoing), please discuss this with Crown counsel at court, or contact their office at BCPS.ReviewBoard@gov.bc.ca.
Under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, every victim has the right to have their security considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system. The Review Board, as a member of the criminal justice system, takes reasonable and necessary steps to help protect victims and their representatives. Please contact the Crown office at BCPS.ReviewBoard@gov.bc.ca or contact VictimLinkBC for more details on what options and services are available.
You are entitled to submit a Victim Impact Statement. Please see below for details. If you choose to do so, the Review Board is required by law under section 672.5 (15) to distribute it to Crown counsel and the accused or their counsel. Do not include sensitive information, such as your address, in the statement.
A Victim Impact Statement (VIS) is a written statement that allows you to express the effects that the offence or alleged offence has had on you and your life. If you are a family member, parent, or guardian of a victim, this may be a way to express how you have witnessed the effects of the offence on the victim, or the effect that it has had on you personally. There is a suggested format for a VIS that you can find here.
The contents of a VIS are prescribed in s. 672.5 (14) of the Criminal Code. It includes information about physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss that you may have suffered as a result of the offence. Please keep in mind that the Review Board panel can only consider information that is consistent with this section and cannot consider any submissions with respect to the disposition you believe the Board should make.
When a Victim Impact Statement is submitted, it becomes part of the case file and evidence for future hearings. As such, it is provided to all parties, including the accused, a representative of the forensic system, and a representative of the Attorney General (Crown prosecutor). If the accused is a young person as defined in the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the statement will also be sent to their parent or guardian.
Under section 672.5 (15.1), you may also request to read your Victim Impact Statement at the next hearing. It is best to inform the Review Board if you intend to, so that adequate time can be allocated during the hearing. If you do not wish to read your statement, it will still be part of the evidence.
Although you are welcome to submit a statement more than once, when a statement is submitted, it will continue to be considered at every hearing. Please be aware that the Board is required by law under section 672.5 (15) to distribute Victim Impact Statements to Crown and counsel for the accused or the accused. Please do not include sensitive information such as your address in your statement.