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Published: 14 November 2018
Author: Sharon Barnes
Many victims of crime are aware of their entitlement to lodge an application for a special payment from the Victorian Government in order to help them recover from a violent crime.
What’s not well known are Sentencing Act Applications which may be lodged in court against the perpetrator who is then liable for a financial payment to the victim.
I will explain how this works.
Under a Victims of Crime Application, it is the Government which funds the system and the payments. The benefits of this system are that it costs nothing to lodge and the legal representation costs are met by the Government. The scheme will allow for the funding of reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the crime.
In addition to a Victims of Crime Application, a victim may also make a Sentencing Act Application.
Any victim of an act of violence can pursue a Sentencing Act Application against an offender who has either pleaded guilty or has been found guilty of the offence against them. Claims can only be pursued for convicted offences so if there were some offences without a conviction, they cannot be included in the Sentencing Act Application.
The Application goes before the same Judge or Magistrate who heard the criminal matter. The Application is intended to secure compensation for any pain and suffering caused by the offender plus any other expenses incurred as a result of the crime.
There are no fees to lodge the Application but there is not always a costs order in favour of the victim so therefore they are liable for their own legal fees and disbursements. They can vary but are usually taken out of the settlement monies on finalisation of the claim
An application must be lodged within 12 months of conviction and that is often earlier than the sentencing. If an offender pleads guilty then the 12-month deadline is from the date the plea of guilty is entered in Court
Victims are entitled to lodge a Sentencing Act Application even though they may have already granted a Victims of Crime Award, but this must be disclosed and you are not permitted to claim for the same expenses so if you receive medical expenses under Victims of Crime they cannot be claimed again.
The offender is responsible for any order made against them so a claim is very dependant on whether they have the means to meet any possible order. It is most beneficial if the police have restrained assets for the purpose of any compensation order.
It is useful to pursue a Victims of Crime Application but it is also worth making enquires with Victoria Police as to whether any funds or assets have been restrained so that enquires can then be made in relation to a Sentencing Act Application.
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