Victim Impact Statements (VIS)
- Opportunity for victims to tell the court his/her story; this is the victim’s “voice”.
- VIS collects specific information that only the victim can speak too; it is not designed to get the victims input on sentencing or how he/she feels about the accused.
- VIS is considered only if a finding of guilt (either the accused pleads guilty or through a finding of guilty at trial).
- If not guilty, the VIS is never considered and remains with the court file.
- If found guilty, VIS is considered by the court before sentencing.
- A victim can get help to complete but VSU cannot provide that help.
- A victim can read a statement in court; the court gallery is a public space so anyone in the gallery will hear the statement.
- When VIS is given to a victim, VSU notifies Crown and Clerk of Courts that victim has been notified of his/her right to complete a VIS.
- It is always the decision of the victim to complete a VIS and if a VIS is sent to the victim, the victim can still change his/her mind of whether to complete or not.
- If a victim wants to complete, VSU recommends he/she completes soon as the accused can plead guilty at any time and the opportunity to complete can be lost.
- There is a brochure included that gives directions on the process; VSU also sends a white mailing envelope addressed to the court house.
- VSU will provide information on the blue envelope such as Police File #, Docket # and Police Agency code. The information on the blue envelope is needed for the top of the VIS.
- If extra pages are needed, the victim needs to sign and date each page.
Request for Restitution (RR)
- Similar to a small claims application.
- The Crown reviews the application and decides if it will be brought forward for the Judge to consider. If the Crown does not accept the RR, the victim can still go with a small claims application.
- RR is only considered if there is a finding of guilt.
- RR only consider actually money lost (insurance deductibles, lost wages, moving expenses).
- Restitution, if awarded, is paid by the accused. As part of the RR, victims should request any restitution order be attached to any possible probation order.
- If restitution is ordered, it is up to the victim to file proper paper work with the court to have the award collected. We can supply a brochure to explain how to do this.
- Remind victim to make copies of all receipts and the form before submitting.
- Form and receipts can be returned to the RCMP Detachment to be attached to the file or sent directly to the Crown.
- VSU can supply the file # for victims.
Financial Benefits (FB)
- Must be an eligible offense (crime of the person). Property crimes / MVC do not qualify.
- Victims can be eligible for FB regardless of the court outcome; meaning there does not have to have a finding of guilt or even charges laid for a victim to apply.
- FB does a criminal background check on the victim; if the person was hurt while committing a crime or put themselves in danger, that MAY impact a possible FB application.
- If the victim is concerned about his/her background, VSU will explain there is an appeal process if denied or not satisfied with an award.
- When the victim signs the form, he/she is signing a release of information for medical records and the police file.
- A victim has two years from the incident date to apply; certain exceptions for child victims and victims of a sexual assault.
- Applications can take up to 12 months to process; victims should receive a letter acknowledging receipt of the application within 4-6 weeks.
- The financial award for injuries can be spent on anything; it is not tied to medical or any other expenses.
- The financial award for death benefit is to cover costs of funeral/burial expenses.
- The amount is determined by treated injuries (emotional and physical) similar to an insurance claim. If the victim has not accessed any treatment, he/she is still encouraged to apply within the 2-year time frame. The reason being, if he/she gets treatment 2 years after the incident, he/she may request the claim be reopened and funds may be available. If the victim does not apply within the 2 years, he/she would not be eligible (again special consideration for child victims / sexual assault victims).
- A witness of homicide may be eligible for a one-time benefit of $5000 depending on the relationship with the deceased. Family members and close friends who witnessed the crime can apply
- FB is funded through the Victims of Crime Fund in Alberta; the accused is not personally responsible for any possible award.