Victims of Crime: Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is responsible for the prosecution of serious criminal offences.

The ODPP can assist you throughout the prosecution process, often in conjunction with the Victim Support Service and the Child Witness Service.

Prosecution process

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An accused person who has been charged with an offence will first appear in the Magistrates Court located nearest to where they were arrested and charged.

After a process of disclosure (in which the investigators provide the results of the investigation to the accused and the State), serious criminal matters will then be sent (or ‘committed’) from the Magistrates Court to either the Supreme Court or the District Court. This is usually when the ODPP becomes involved, except in the case of murder, manslaughter or attempted murder where the ODPP becomes involved from the second court appearance.

If the accused pleads guilty, the Supreme or District Court can sentence the accused reasonably soon after the plea of guilty is entered, after time has been allowed to obtain the necessary information, including any Victim Impact Statement. 

If the accused pleads not guilty, the matter will go to trial. It takes much longer for a trial to be heard than for a sentencing hearing. 

If you are a victim of crime, you may be required to give evidence in court. If so, you will be contacted by the ODPP at an appropriate time in the proceedings to discuss the matter and, when the trial date is known, you will receive a witness summons to come to court.

The Victim Support Service can arrange support for you in court, during the trial. If a victim of crime or a witness is a child, the Child Witness Service is a specialist service that helps explain the court process to the child and prepare them for court in a suitable environment.

If you would like to know what guides our practice in the prosecution of serious crime, then see the DPP Statement of Prosecution Policy and Guidelines.

In addition to the information on provided on this page, additional specific guidelines are available for victims of crime: DPP Policy and Guidelines for Victims of Crime 2018, the Victims of Crime website and information about Criminal Injuries Compensation and Restraining Orders.

Keeping informed

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If you wish to be kept informed about the process of a case, we can provide you with this information.

When the ODPP takes over the prosecution of a case, the victims are contacted by letter to advise that the ODPP is now involved. In this letter, you will receive a form to complete and send back to the ODPP if you wish to be kept informed of the progress of the case. Filling out this form and returning it to us helps us to keep track of who wants to be kept informed. Some victims of crime do not wish to be contacted or only wish to know the final outcome. We respect whatever choice you make.

In our first letter, you will also be advised of the name of the file manager (prosecutor) and the paralegal for the case. The prosecutor who manages the case may not always be the same prosecutor who goes to the various court appearances that occur, especially in the lead up to a trial. This is because prosecutors who are preparing and managing trials cannot always be attending the ongoing court appearances of all the other cases that they are managing at the same time. It might sound confusing, but as long as you remember that there will always be a paralegal and a file manager allocated to your case, you can be assured that there is always someone available should you need to contact us.

It is very important that you keep us advised of your contact details. If you move house, change your telephone number or other contact details please contact either the paralegal or file manager or, alternatively, our reception staff, who can pass your information on to the right person.

My input into the prosecution process

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The ODPP cannot act as your lawyer. Our role is to prosecute the accused on behalf of the State of Western Australia.

We will, however, listen to your views about the prosecution process and consider your wishes about the charges that we proceed with at court. We will consider your views seriously. At the same time, we have to also consider all the other aspects of the case that require our attention when we act as an independent prosecutor, such as legal procedure, the public good, justice and fairness.

We always have to assess whether each charge is appropriate based on many factors, including the available evidence. Sometimes we have to make decisions about whether or not to proceed with some or all of the charges. We understand that sometimes you may want us to proceed with charges or drop charges based on your own personal situation. While we will consider your views, at times, we have to make decisions that take into account other factors beyond your personal situation.

Please feel welcome to contact the file manager to discuss any issues or concerns you have about the charges and the prosecution process.

Victim Impact Statements

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A Victim Impact Statement is a statement about how the crime has affected you. It is your opportunity to provide this information to the court so that it can be taken into account when the offender is being sentenced.

Usually people provide written statements to the court. In some circumstances you can provide your Victim Impact Statement orally, but this needs to be arranged before the sentencing court date. If you wish to do this you will need to speak to the file manager about this and arrangements will need to be made for you to do this at court.

In your Victim Impact Statement you can provide information about any injury, loss or damage that you have suffered as a direct result of the offence. You can also describe how the crime has impacted on your life, including your health, mental wellbeing, employment, finances, family life, social activities etc. It is important to remember that the legislation that governs Victim Impact Statements states that you cannot comment on how the accused should be sentenced.

The Victim Support Service has staff available to provide you with information and help to write your Victim Impact Statement.

Review of an ODPP decision

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The ODPP understands that a victim of crime may be dissatisfied with a decision made by a State Prosecutor in relation to a prosecution. In some circumstances, a victim is entitled to seek a review of the ODPP decision.

The process and criteria to review decisions are set out in the DPP Policy and Guidelines for Victims of Crime 2018.

Who may request a review of an ODPP decision?

  • Any victim who is directly affected by the decision.

  • Where the victim is under 18 years of age or has a disability, a parent, guardian or spokesperson for the victim.

  • Where the offence has caused the death of a person, immediate family members of that person.

What types of ODPP decisions may be reviewed?

Initial review

  • An amendment or discontinuance of a charge or charges that significantly alters the prosecution case for the victim.

  • Where it is decided that there is to be no prosecution of any charge relating to the victim (for example, all charges relating to the victim are to be discontinued).

Internal independent review

  • Where it is decided that there is to be no prosecution of any charge relating to the victim (for example, all charges relating to the victim are to be discontinued).

If a victim is dissatisfied with any other type of decision made by a State Prosecutor in relation to a prosecution they are encouraged to discuss the matter directly with the State Prosecutor. 

When to request a review of an ODPP decision

Victims should submit a request for a review of a decision within seven days (and, ideally, as soon as possible) after being notified of the decision. 

It may not always be possible for the decision to be reviewed before it is communicated to the court. However, victims should take into account court dates so that, if possible, a request can be considered before the decision is communicated to the court.

How to request a review of an ODPP decision

A victim may request a review of an ODPP decision by submitting a Request a Review of an ODPP Decision form. The form may be completed and submitted online. Alternatively, a victim may request and complete a hardcopy of the form and email it to victimreview@dpp.wa.gov.au.

Review outcomes

Victims will be notified of the outcome of review of an ODPP decision verbally and, if sought, in writing:

  • Within 14 days of the decision (in the case of an initial review).

  • Within 28 days of the decision (in the case of an internal independent review).

Compensation and restitution

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If you have suffered any property loss or damage, or if you have suffered any associated expenses as a result of the offence, the court may be able to order compensation to you or make a restitution order.

The ODPP can make this application to the court at the time that the offender is sentenced. If you want us to do this, it is important that you provide us with the information about these losses and damages in plenty of time for us to be able to present the information to the court at the right time. In our first letter to you, a form will be enclosed for you to advise us of your wish to pursue any compensation or restitution. Usually you will have to provide receipts for any bills you’ve had to pay to substantiate your application.

An example would be where you’ve suffered damage to your property as a result of a burglary and there are expenses you have incurred that are not covered by your insurance.

If the court does make an order for compensation or restitution, the ODPP is not responsible for following this up to make sure the offender makes the payments as ordered by the court. If the offender breaches the orders imposed by the court, you may need to follow this up with the court yourself or seek legal advice.

You may also be able to make a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation. This is where you can seek financial assistance for injury and trauma, loss of income and other associated losses. Applications are made to the Office of the Assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation. The ODPP cannot assist you with this as it is not part of the criminal prosecution process. The Victim Support Service can assist you with more information.

Criminal injuries compensation

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If you have suffered physical injuries or mental trauma, loss of income, travel expenses associated with recovery from the crime and other similar expenses, you may be able to make a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation. These applications are made to the Assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation.

While the Assessor seeks to recover any compensation that you may be awarded from the offender, any award made by the Assessor is paid to you from State funds. The Assessor then seeks recovery from the offender after you have received your compensation.

You will need to complete an application form, provide documentation that supports your claim and in some circumstances you may have to attend a hearing, similar to giving evidence at court.

The ODPP cannot assist you with this application because it is not part of the prosecution process.

The Victim Support Service can assist you with further information.

Child Victims

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Children who have been victims of crime have special needs. Depending on their age, they may need different degrees of support and assistance in order to successfully give their evidence at court.

The court recognises the special needs of children. Children can often give their evidence by having it pre-recorded in a safe and non-threatening environment or by giving their evidence from a separate room where they can be supported. This also means they will not have to go into the court room, or come into contact with the accused or their supporters.

The Child Witness Service is a government agency that has been established to ensure that children are helped through the court process. This may include being given information so that they can understand what is happening at court and their role in giving evidence. Staff at the Child Witness Service will help prepare children for court and will support them during and after giving their evidence.

Vulnerable Witnesses

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If the thought of having to give evidence at court results in you feeling vulnerable and frightened, we may be able to assist.

In the same way that children can give their evidence by pre-recording their evidence, or from a separate room or location, vulnerable adults may also be able to use these procedures to ensure that they can give their evidence effectively.

Adults may be vulnerable because they have a disability, impairment, or illness, because they fear for their safety arising from a violent relationship, of if there are other factors which result in their needing support and assistance when giving evidence in court.

Please bring any of these issues to our attention so that we have plenty of time to asses these issues and work out the best way for managing them before the trial. The Victim Support Service may also be able to help you by giving you some support and counselling that results in you being better able to manage the demands of a trial. We can facilitate a referral to the Victim Support Service at any time.

Special Needs

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Let us know if there is any help that you need during the court process. For example if you:

  • need an interpreter,

  • have hearing difficulties,

  • have difficulty walking or getting around,

  • have mental health issues we should consider,

  • have young children to care for or elderly people to care for, or

  • live in a remote location,

and this impacts on your ability to come to court or to our office, then please let us know. We will do our best to assist.

Services for Victims of Crime

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The following links will link you directly with the websites of these services.

WA Government Website for Victims

  • Reporting a crime

  • Obtaining urgent assistance

  • Information about services for victims, including where to get counselling and support

  • Going to court

  • Claiming compensation

  • Safety and protection

  • Helping children who are victims of crime

  • A Guide to the Media for Victims of Crime (Department of Justice publication)

 

Victim Support Service

  • Information on the status of police investigations

  • Information about court proceedings

  • Help to write a Victim Impact Statement

  • Counselling and support

  • Support during court proceedings

  • Information about, and referral to, other services

  • Understanding your rights within the criminal justice system

  • Help with enquiries about criminal injuries compensation

 

Child Witness Service

  • Reduces trauma

  • Keeps the family fully informed about the progress of the case through the courts

  • Helps children prepare Victim Impact Statements

  • Advocates on behalf of the child

 

Family Violence Service

  • Help to discuss issues and the options to deal with the issues

  • Assistance to develop a safety plan

  • Help to complete court related documents

  • Help to prepare for court

  • In court support

  • Information about ongoing court matters

  • Help to access other services

 

Homicide Victims Support Group 

  • Meets as a group once a month

  • Provides support

  • Provides information

  • Aims to enhance communication

  • Phone: 0451 974 685

 

Interpreter Services

  • If you need help to speak to us, as English is not your first language, please contact us and we will arrange an interpreter for you.

Videos for Victims of Crime

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In 2014 the Western Australian Commissioner for Victims of Crime launched three new videos to provide useful information on important topics such as the services available to Victims of Crime, Victim Impact Statements and the ways children and adolescents can give evidence in court.

The videos were developed by the Department of the Attorney General as a result of community consultation and enable Victims of Crime to easily access information in the privacy of their own home in their own time.

The videos can be viewed via links on the Victims of Crime website and the WA Police Force’s Victims of Crime webpage.

Page reviewed 28 June 2021