Australian Civil Liberties Union
Your Rights 2005
PROTECTION AGAINST CRIME
(How to protect yourself against crime)
ACLU policy. Protection of Property. Protection of Children Physical attack victims speak out. Giving evidence in Court. Compensation and Restitution Rights. To obtain an intervention order against a stalker etc – see Chapter 5.
Most people at some stage of their lives will be a victim of a crime such as burglary or car theft. The first part of this chapter deals with the need for more attention to be paid to the rights of victims of crime, ACLU suggestions for law reform to protect their interests, and practical advice on how to protect your house from burglary and theft. It also gives advice about your legal rights to protect your children, precautions which should be taken especially by women and elderly people, when they go away from their homes, how women should deal with physical attacks, and precautions you should take when travelling by car.
The chapter also includes some examples of victims of crime who have spoken out (such as Kay Nesbit), advice on victims’ entitlements to restitution of property and compensation for injuries, and victims rights as witnesses in court proceedings. The advice on rights of witnesses will also be helpful to people accused with crimes and witnesses they call to give evidence on their behalf (see Chapter 8).The advice may also assist people who wish to conduct their own court cases.
The liberty and physical security of yourself, your children and your friends and the security of property should be protected. You should be aware of your rights as a potential or actual victim of crime. The rights of criminals and people suspected of crimes are well protected under our system.The rights of ordinary citizens, especially victims of crime are often given little publicity. A proposed Bill of Rights which would have strengthened the rights of the accused at the expense of the victim has been abandoned for the time being.
The ACLU believes that greater efforts should be made to ensure that people are aware how to minimize the risk of theft and personal assaults. The ACLU also believes that greater assistance should be given by governments to the victims of crime. While people accused of crime are now protected against self incrimination, have access to legal aid and are rehabilitated after conviction, the plight of the victims of personal assaults is often overlooked.Victims are often subject to needlessly aggressive cross-examination in court, are sometimes threatened with reprisals for giving evidence, are often traumatised for life by the combined experience of the initial assault and recounting the experience in court, and are entitled to what is almost derisory compensation for their injuries. The amount of compensation should be greatly increased. Higher rates of compensation should be funded by wider powers to confiscate the assets of convicted criminals.
The addresses of victims of attacks should not be disclosed unless the address is relevant to the defendant’s defence. Property of the victim held as evidence for court proceedings should be returned quickly. Victims of attacks should be advised of the result of bail applications and of an offender’s impending release from custody. Police powers should be adequate and victims should have a reasonable expectation that their attackers will be apprehended. There has been an over-emphasis on the rights of the accused compared to the rights of the victim.This imbalance should be changed.
PROTECTION OF PROPERTY
The police suggest the following steps to protect your house. Since in 38% of home burglaries, entry is via an unlocked door or window, ensure that all doors and windows are locked and that the locks are adequate. A good quality security door correctly fitted, provides an additional lock plus a barrier between you and callers. A door viewer will enable you to view callers without opening the door. Often a caller can be seen through a window with a view of the point of entrance. Keep the rear door locked when you are at the front of the residence. Windows may be protected by grills, shutters and locks. Burglar alarms which are available for domestic use can be installed. Install a timer to turn lights on when you are absent.
Lock away any ladders, bicycles, toys, power tools and motor cars. Keep any garden shed or access door for any room under the residence locked. Trim any bushes which could hide an offender. Good exterior lighting is useful for identification and for general security. Do not leave keys to the premises outside in an obvious place.
Keep an inventory of all valuable property including serial numbers of electrical goods and mark the property by engraver or felt pen. You should insure all household contents. If there is a theft from your house you should immediately phone the Police and notify your insurance company. When absent on holidays request a neighbour to clear advertising material from your letter box. Other deliveries may be cancelled prior to a vacation. Avoid making it obvious that a female lives alone. Change mail box and telephone listings to M. Smith from Mary Smith. Never admit to a caller to the front door or to telephone caller that you are alone. Consider joining any Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area.
Before going away on holidays you should cancel delivery of newspapers and milk, ask the post office to hold your mail, deposit any valuables such as jewellery in a bank or other safe, lock your garage and any outbuildings, and make sure that all doors and windows are securely locked. Make sure that all electrical appliances are switched off (except for anti-burglar automatic timers) and that plugs are removed from sockets.You should inform a neighbour you trust where you can be contacted should this be necessary. Try to give the impression that the house is being used regularly. Put the blinds and shades in different positions to avoid the impression that the house is vacant. Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your house while you are away. Your neighbours should be requested not to tell callers to your house that you are away on holidays.
Neighbours should be asked to collect junk mail such as leaflets and pamphlets. If you are leaving your key with a neighbour, request that it be kept in a safe place. Advise your neighbour the date you are leaving, the date you expect to return, your holiday address and phone number, and if travelling by car the make, colour and registration number of the car. You should also provide the local police with these details.The police have a form for travellers to fill out. The same information can be provided to any local NeighbourhoodWatch group. If you are leaving animals behind, make sure you arrange for them to be fed and provided with water. Put your garbage bins away. If your garbage bins are empty when others in your area are full, this will indicate to burglars that your house is vacant.
If you intend to have a lengthy holiday ask your neighbour to mow your lawn. Arrange for your garden to be watered and kept tidy.You can arrange to install automatic electrical timers for lights and radios to give the impression your house is lived in on a regular basis. Be careful about who installs timers and security equipment. If in doubt check with the police to ensure you are dealing with a reputable tradesman with sound products.
You can also hang some inexpensive clothes on your clothes-line to give your home an occupied appearance. Your neighbours and friends who have keys should be encouraged to enter your home and rearrange blinds, and if you don’t have an automatic timer, turn lights on and off, and leave a radio playing during the day. Make sure the contents of your house are insured. Mark property such as television sets, stereo equipment and anything of significant value by etching your drivers licence number. Use a felt pen which invisibly marks properly where the property would be damaged by engraving.
DON’T LET AN OFFENDER IN
Doubt everyone who comes to the door, however genuine they appear to be, even to use the phone in the event of an accident. Make the call for them, while they wait outside or advise them to give assistance to the victim.
Check credentials before allowing entry. Always check the credentials which all genuine officials carry by looking through a door viewer or a security door. Study the identification provided. Normally you will receive prior warning of intended visits, other then reading of the meter. If you deal only with reputable organizations listed in the telephone book you will help to protect yourself.
A potential criminal trying to convince you to open your door and let him in may tell you that he is an official from the gas or electricity company, Board ofWorks, or Telecom, or some other well known organization and will ask if he can come in.He may pose as an antique dealer offering good prices for furniture or belongings you may have. He will apologise for carelessly forgetting to bring a business card and then ask if he can come in and take a look around. He may tell you he has just moved his business into your area and offer to repair your house cheaply. He will ask if he can come in and give you an estimate. If you let him in without checking his identification you don’t know what you may be letting yourself in for. Remember—if in doubt, keep him out.
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN
The Police suggest that parents know the length of time it takes their child to get home from school and that they immediately check any delayed arrival home. You should ascertain the safest route to and from school and instruct your child to follow that route. You should visit the school and become acquainted with teachers. You may learn of problem behaviour before it becomes serious. If your children are to arrive home after dark, you should arrange to meet them. Know your children’s playmates and where they congregate. Be sure any babysitter you use is a responsible person, capable of acting in any emergency.
Your children should be warned about “friendly strangers”. You should tell your children that strangers come in all shapes and sizes and instruct them to report to you any suspicious person, or attempts to approach them by unknown adults. You should warn your children to ignore requests from strangers for assistance and tell them not to accept rides or gifts from strangers, even ones who tell them they are friends of the family. A request by a stranger to your children to search for a lost animal, help with a ladder or broken down car, or to help in some other way could lead to trouble.
Your children should be told to check with you before going anywhere with anyone and to report any suspicious actions of adults or other children in the vicinity of schools or playing areas. A parent should check on all these things and not leave it to the child and hope that the child will automatically take precautions.
PRECAUTIONS AWAY FROM HOME
Australia is still one of the safest countries in the world for people to walk the streets, travel by public transport, shop in supermarkets and travel by car. Indeed freedom of movement without being “mugged” or attacked is a basic civil liberty. The Police say that the following precautions can be taken by women and elderly citizens to minimize the risk of assault or theft when away from the home. Whether you take all or some of the precautions is a question of judgement of each person.
Before Going Out at Night. Before going out at night, you should determine routes of travel and, if appropriate, leave word with someone of your destination and time of return.You should carry identification and any emergency phone numbers you may need. Make sure you lock up before leaving home. If using public transport you should try to know the time of departure to avoid waiting at tram stops and railway stations. You should board transport from well lit areas, choose a location with most passengers and travel near the guards’s compartment. Observe fellow passengers and change seats if uneasy about their behaviour.
Physical attack. Police advise women that if an attack is imminent you should flee your attacker, run quickly to a well lit populated location, such as a milk bar, service station, or shop. Scream or shout as loud as you can to attract attention or sound a personal alarm. The police suggest that you avoid close physical encounter with the attacker. You should quickly assess the situation and if a physical encounter is unavoidable continue screaming or shouting. You can strike back fast, aiming for vital spots. Gouge his eyes with thumbs, hit the attacker’s temple, nose or adams apple. Use the edge of a handbag, book, rolled up newspaper or umbrella to poke into the attacker’s midriff and jab your knee into the groin. If you are attacked from behind, you should clench your fists, raise your arms and quickly jab your elbows into the attacker’s ribs, then turn and jab your knee into his groin and then flee. You should note the appearance and height etc. of the attacker and immediately report the incident to police.
The police suggest that women and elderly people who may be at risk should travel and shop with companions whenever possible, specially at night. They should avoid carrying large sums of money and women should carry their handbags in their hands rather than on top of other items in a basket or loose shopping bag.You should also carry identification and telephone numbers you may require.You should keep valuables such as a handbag or wallet under your control. In public places do not place valuables on the floor, on the back of a chair or on another seat.
Travelling by Car. Make sure your car is in good condition and has plenty of petrol and that you have a street directory. Keep your car door locked when it is parked, with the windows wound up. Have your keys ready as you walk to your car. Before you get in, check to make sure no one is hiding in your vehicle. If in difficulties, drive to a service station or well lit location where you can drive in and seek assistance. Don’t stop for any hitch-hikers. Park your car in well lit areas. Don’t leave valuables in your car. Be alert to anything suspicious and take appropriate action.
Points to Remember: Be alert. Keep your car and house locked. Don’t make it easy for the criminal. Use your common sense and take elementary precautions. Be careful who you let into your home. Never admit you are alone in your house. Make a note of any suspicious activities. Don’t put yourself at risk of attack in public places. Join a local “NeighbourhoodWatch” system. If none exists in your locality, try to get your neighbours to assist you in organizing one.
MORE HELP FOR VICTIMS OF CRIMES
The need for greater protection of the civil liberties of victims and potential victims of criminal attacks is being increasingly recognised. Ridiculously lenient penalties for convicted criminals and the premature release of criminals from jail have been the subject of media scrutiny. Compensation for victims has been increased in some instances. Neighbourhood Watch schemes which involve people in a particular locality pooling information and reporting suspicious activities to the police have been successful in providing more protection for the basic civil liberties of security for the person and for private property. Questions are being asked as to why the proposed Bill of Rights protected the rights of the accused but did not mention the rights of victims.The rights of an accused person to make a statement in court and not to submit himself to cross examination (something a victim required to give evidence cannot avoid) has been removed in some States. Organizations supporting victims of crime and the Crime Prevention sections of police forces have provided useful information for victims and potential victims of crime. Information similar to that readily available to an accused person as to how to conduct himself in court proceedings (for example a chapter called The Police and the Citizen in Your Rights) is now available to victims called to give evidence against an accused.These changes are welcome.
Victims speak out. A climate for greater recognition of the plight of victims is due partly to the preparedness of some victims to speak out, a greater awareness on the part of sections of the media as to the imbalance of the rights of the accused and the rights of the victim, and greater pressure from police spokesmen for changes. Publicity about the imbalance of the rights of victims and accused in cases involving Kay Nesbit (who was shot in the face) and Gayle McDonald (who was raped) has assisted reform.
ADVICE FOR VICTIMS
The earlier advice as to how to avoid burglaries and personal assaults may not be of great assistance in combating determined criminals. Advice about insuring household contents, marking and photographing items, and advising police and insurers quickly about a theft, may assist in recovering stolen items or compensation for their theft. You can obtain compensation for injuries following court proceedings whether the accused has been convicted or not.You may be able to obtain compensation for assault even where the assailant cannot be identified. You may be able to obtain an order in criminal proceedings that an offender return property or pay you compensation for theft of or damage to property. You may also be required to give evidence in court and should know your rights in relation to such proceedings. You should not hesitate to obtain legal advice from a legal aid service (see Chapter 1), a citizen’s advice bureau, court counselling services, and the prosecutor handling any case against the accused in which you are to be called as a witness. You should seek advice about the nature of court proceedings, your rights as a witness, and right to obtain compensation for injures and your right to obtain return of your property. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
EVIDENCE IN COURT
Most criminal cases (and civil cases) are dealt with in courts presided over by Magistrates. These courts are called Local Courts in N.S.W., S.A. and W.A., and Magistrates Courts in Vic. and Queensland. I will call these courts the “lower courts”.
These courts hear the case, and, if the accused is found guilty, impose a penalty (subject to appeal) in most criminal cases. In more serious cases the Magistrate will only make a preliminary finding in a “committal” proceeding whether there is enough evidence to place an accused person on trial before a jury in a more senior court known as a District Court (in Victoria called a County Court), or an even more senior court known as a Supreme Court. These senior courts make the final decision in serious criminal eases and more important civil cases (subject to appeal) and are presided over by a judge.
Victims of crimes are often required to give evidence in less serious criminal cases at a first and final hearing in the Magistrates Court; and in serious cases a committal hearing (a preliminary hearing) in the Magistrates Court and then a trial in a more senior court.
Sometimes in cases involving serious charges a hand-up brief is used at the committal hearing in the lower court (Magistrates Court or Local court depending on the State) and witnesses (including victims of crime) do not have to attend to give evidence.
The following advice for such victims may also be helpful to the accused and his witnesses who are given advice elsewhere in Your Rights in Chapter 8. Comments about how to address the judge or magistrate, the right to an interpreter, adjournments, hearsay evidence, and objections to questions asked in court, apply to both the accused and to witnesses called by the prosecution including the (alleged) victim.
Why are witnesses needed? The N.S.W. Attorney General’s Department has published useful information indicating that the most common form of evidence especially in criminal trials, is that given by witnesses. A witness is a person who has seen, heard or has some knowledge of things or events that are connected with the crime said to have been committed. The police who are investigating the crime are often witnesses, as are doctors or scientists or other people who may be able to give ’expert’ evidence about some aspect of the crime.Anyone can be a witness if it is thought that the evidence to be given by that person is relevant to the case.
Will you be called?
The police will tell you if you are required as a witness for the prosecution. Generally, the first people who will talk to you about being a witness are the police. A police officer will usually interview anyone who it is thought may be able to assist them in their investigation and prosecution of the crime.You have probably already made a statement to the police giving details about what you know about the alleged crime. You will be notified either by the investigating police or by a police prosecutor when you will be required to attend court. If you are told that you will be required as a witness in the future, you should keep the police notified of your correct address and telephone number if possible. If you are required to give evidence for the defence, you will be contacted either by the accused or the accused’s legal representative.
If you are required to attend court as a witness for the prosecution or the defence and you refuse to attend court, a summons may be issued against you requiring you to attend or you may even be arrested and brought before the court. If you are unable to attend because you are ill, or for some other emergency, you should notify the Police or prosecution immediately. Failure to attend court or notify anyone about your inability to attend can greatly inconvenience the court and other people who are required to attend court on that day.
Interpreters. You can obtain an interpreter if you have difficulty speaking or understanding English by phoning the Interpreter Service. (See Chapter 1). Make sure you do this well before the day you have to appear. When you are giving evidence for the Crown in a criminal prosecution, you will be paid, in accordance with a set scale, as a contribution towards loss of wages, travelling and related expenses.
Taking an Oath. Before giving evidence in a criminal or civil case you must swear on the Bible or make some form of promise to tell the truth in court. If you object to swearing an oath on the Bible, you may make an affirmation instead; or if your religion requires you to take an oath in some other way, e.g. by swearing on the Koran, you may request to do so. If possible let the party calling you as a witness know beforehand if you have any special requirements for swearing an oath.
Addressing the Court. In proceedings in a lower court you should refer to the Magistrate as “Your Worship” or “Sir” or “Madam” as the case may be. At the County Court or District Court or at the Supreme Court the proceedings are always conducted by a judge who should be referred to as “Your Honour”. If you have to give evidence at a Coroner’s Court, the Coroner is always addressed as “Your Worship”.
Summary Hearing or Committal?
When the police are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a criminal offence, the person charged will first appear before a lower court. There are a number of alternative ways of dealing with an accused person depending upon how serious the charge is and whether or not the accused is pleading guilty or not guilty.
Generally, less serious charges can be heard by a magistrate at the lower court level. Where the accused pleads guilty, you will probably not be required to give evidence or attend the court. If the accused decides to plead not guilty and the magistrate has decided to hear the case, then all the evidence of both the prosecution and the defence will be placed before the magistrate. You will be required to give evidence at this hearing. The magistrate then decides if the person is guilty or not guilty and sentences the person if found guilty. If the charge is more serious, the magistrate cannot deal with it even if the accused wishes to plead guilty. In this situation the case must be transferred to a higher court and the person must be sentenced by a judge.
A Committal Hearing
Where an accused pleads not guilty to a serious criminal offence, the magistrate will order that a “committal” hearing or preliminary hearing takes place. A committal is a hearing before a magistrate to decide if there is sufficient evidence of a criminal offence to send the person to trial before a judge in a more senior court. At this hearing a police prosecutor puts forward the evidence gathered by the police before the magistrate. This includes calling you as a witness so that you can tell the Court what you know about the case. The defence may also call evidence, although the accused does not have to. The accused may be represented by a lawyer, or may represent himself.The defence lawyer or the accused can ask you questions about what you have told the magistrate in court. After hearing all the evidence and arguments from both the prosecution and defence, the magistrate decides whether the accused person should be sent to trial before a judge and jury. If there is not enough evidence, the accused is discharged and is not committed for trial for that offence. This will normally be the end of the case and you will not be required to give further evidence.The committal hearing is very similar to the trial (unless there is a hand up brief) and your experience in this proceeding will give you some idea of what to expect at a trial.The most important difference between a committal and a trial is that a magistrate alone hears evidence at the committal, and only to decide whether the person will go to trial or not.
Whether you are called to give evidence in a court hearing before a Magistrate in a lower court a committal before a Magistrate in a lower court or a trial before a Judge in a District Court (County Court in Victoria) or a Supreme Court the following procedure applies. The same procedure also applies in civil (non-criminal) cases. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the court.When you attend at court to give evidence you should see the prosecutor or his instructing solicitor (or if you are a defence witness, the lawyer appearing for the accused) to let him know you are present at court. You will then be told to wait outside the court or nearby until it is your turn to give evidence. A court official will call your name outside the courtroom and you should then follow that officer into the courtroom.You will be shown to the witness box and asked to swear an oath or make an affirmation. Normally you will be asked to state your name and address and sometimes your occupation at the beginning of your evidence. If you are at all worried about giving these details in open court you should let your lawyer know beforehand. In some cases the judge will accept this information in writing rather than you having to say it before everyone at court. Remember that court hearings are open to the public. The lawyer for the party calling you to give evidence will then ask you questions to assist you in telling what you know about the case to the court. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked and speak clearly.
How to give Evidence.
When you give evidence, you can only talk about matters directly within your own observation or experience. You cannot give evidence about what someone else told you about the case or what you thought about it. If you are asked to tell the court about a conversation you heard which is relevant to the case, you must always tell the words spoken to you just as they were said, e.g. if the person asked you the time, you do not say “She asked me the time”. Instead, you should say—“She said ‘What’s the time?’ ”Always try to use the exact words if possible.
You should also remember that you must tell the truth. If you don’t know the answer to a question, or if you cannot remember, say so. Don’t try to answer a question if you cannot. It is important to remember that the magistrate or judge, lawyers and the accused should be able to hear what you say. In addition everything said in court is being recorded either by the magistrate, or a shorthand writer or on tape in cases before a judge and jury. If these people cannot hear or understand the question being put to you, then you should ask to have the question repeated or rephrased.
Objections to Questions. Occasionally when giving your evidence or being questioned, one of the lawyers will raise an “objection” with the magistrate or judge. Do not be at all worried by this. Simply stop speaking and wait for the objection to be discussed between the lawyers and the judge.After it has been resolved, you will be asked to continue giving your evidence or will be asked another question.
Cross-Examination. Usually, after you have given your evidence, the defence lawyer (or if you are a witness for the accused, the prosecutor) will also wish to ask you questions. This is called cross-examination. The aim of these questions is to test the strength of your evidence and/or to find out more information from you. The lawyer for the other side may question you about your powers of observation or how good your recollection of the event is. You should not be offended by this line of questioning.
Remember again to listen to the question carefully before answering.The lawyer for the other side may attempt to get you rattled and to change your story. The magistrate or judge is in control of the proceedings and may forbid any questions which are offensive, improper or irrelevant.
Re-examination. Don’t worry if you feel that during cross-examination you have not been able to fully explain or say something. If the lawyer for the party who has called you to give evidence needs any matter to be further explained or clarified, he can ask you questions after the cross-examination is complete. This is called re-examination. The magistrate or judge may also ask you questions about your evidence.
Staying at Court
You will have to say at the court for as long as it takes to hear all your evidence.Your time at court (including the time waiting your turn to give evidence) could be a matter of hours or it could be several days. Once you have finished giving your evidence, you will generally be excused from further attendance at the court. If you have any doubt as to whether or not you should remain at court ask the Prosecutor (or if you are called by the accused, his lawyer) if you can go. Remember that before and whilst you are giving your evidence at court you should not discuss any of your evidence with anyone else including other witnesses at the court. You may of course discuss it with the lawyer for the party who has called you to give evidence. After you have given evidence, you may not be at all interested in the outcome of the case and generally once you have given your evidence at a trial that is the end of the matter as far as you are concerned. On the other hand, you may be very interested in the outcome of the case, especially if you are the victim of the crime. You are entitled to remain at court and listen to the rest of the trial if you are no longer required to give evidence. If you do not wish to do this, you may contact the instructing solicitor who will tell you the outcome.
You commit the offence of contempt of court if you show disrespect for the court or judge hearing a criminal or civil case, or if you disobey an order of the court. You commit the offence of perjury if you make untruthful statements while under oath. Both these offences attract heavy penalties.
Compensation for Victims of Criminal Attacks
If you have been the victim of a crime, the following information is very important to you. Victims of crime can obtain compensation for injuries in all States. The schemes vary from State to State, but generally an application must be made to a court within a certain time after the injury, and the criminal attack leading to the injury must be reported to the police. Injury usually includes physical harm, pregnancy following a rape, nervous shock and mental disorder.
Legal representation of the victim is usually allowed and legal costs will be awarded to a successful applicant. Applicants usually conduct their own cases. The court can compel the attendance of witnesses, medical reports are generally accepted as evidence of injuries, and expenses can generally be proved by production of accounts. Further details of the scheme in your State can be obtained by contacting a legal aid office, a clerk of courts, a private solicitor or the phone advice service of a Law Society. Compensation is available for economic loss and medical expenses. Compensation is often payable even if the assailant cannot be identified, may be paid to the dependents of a person killed by a criminal attack, and may be payable even if the alleged assailant is charged but acquitted. A claim for compensation may be reduced or rejected if the victim was responsible for the attack, for instance by provoking the assailant. The court may adjourn the request for compensation until the victim had instituted civil proceedings against the assailant, if it believes that the assailant is likely to be able to meet a verdict for damages.
However, adjournments are rare since most assailants are unlikely to be able to pay damages.
Other forms of restitution
As indicated above victims of crime should not hesitate to ask legal aid centres, the clerk of courts’ the magistrate or judge, the police, the prosecutor, or victim support groups, about their legal rights and entitlements.
The law varies from state to state. You may be entitled to restitution direct from the offender as well as the compensation from the Government or its agencies referred to above. You should check with the prosecutor before the case whether you are entitled to restitution by the offender or compensation from him. You are generally entitled to have your property which was stolen from you given back, or if the offender is acquitted of theft you will have to take your own civil action. New legislation may give the prosecutor the power to seek an order to seize the assets of an accused person before the hearing, or after his conviction in some cases.
In some criminal cases you may be able to obtain an order against the accused for compensation for loss and damage you have sustained. You may have to prove the value of your claim. In a wilful damage case the cost of repairs may be claimable as part of the criminal proceedings, and the cost of removing placards and posters etc. from the property may also be claimable. You may be able to obtain an order for compensation where your car has been stolen.
It is important to obtain these orders as part of the criminal proceedings since separate civil proceedings at a later date, funded by the victim himself, can be expensive.
Also since convicted criminals often cannot pay compensation, civil proceedings can be a waste of time and money.Victims of crime who lose wages or incur travel expenses as a result of giving evidence, should draw these and any other losses to the attention of the court. If you are not sure what your rights are—ask questions. This approach to finding out about your rights applies to all areas of the law.
Contents of Your Rights
Australian Civil Liberties Union