When to Seek Legal Assistance as a Victim of Crime

woman lawyer on phone

If you have been the victim of a crime, you are entitled to legal assistance and help from a range of government bodies, including the police and the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).

You may also be eligible to receive some form of compensation for your experience as a victim of crime.

Find out when to seek help from a lawyer and other steps in the process.

Legal Assistance for Victims of Crime

We always recommend speaking with an experienced lawyer when you have been the victim of a crime. Although you don’t need legal representation to receive victims of crime compensation, a lawyer can help you to navigate what can be a complex process, and can advise you on your options and the different types of compensation you may be eligible for.

Additionally, victims of crime are often suffering from trauma following the event, and speaking to a compassionate advocate can help during this difficult time. All legal costs at paid for as part of your compensation claim, so you don’t need to worry about lawyer expenses.

Often, victims of crime can find it difficult to begin the process of applying for compensation. It is important to note that you don’t need to do this straight away. A lawyer can work with you over any time frame you need to ensure you receive the help you deserve, and it’s fine to take your time. However, if you do require counselling and other assistance after the event, applying for compensation can assist to cover the costs associated with this.

Working with the Police as a Victim of Crime

It is important that victims of crime either report the crime to the police themselves, or ensure this has been done by another victim or witness. This is because VOCAT cannot make an award of financial assistance if the crime was not reported to the police within a reasonable time (except under some special circumstances).

The police will conduct an investigation, which normally involves interviewing you as a victim and collecting evidence. Dealing with the police can be overwhelming but it’s important to remember that they are on your side. Make a note of the police officer’s name, the police station that you reported it to, and the date of the report – this information will be needed for your compensation claim.

Sometimes the police will conduct an investigation but not proceed with prosecution, or the alleged perpetrator will not be convicted. However, only a police report is needed for a victim of crime to lodge an application for assistance.

Filing an Application for Compensation

If you are working with a lawyer, they can file your application for compensation with VOCAT on your behalf. They will work with you to complete your claim for compensation, which will include information such as:

  • Details of the crime. This includes the kind of criminal act that occurred, as well as the date, time, location, and the alleged perpetrator (if known)
  • Injuries sustained in the crime. These can include bodily harm, mental illness, psychological injury, and pregnancy. Often it will also be corroborated with doctor’s reports and other healthcare professional advice.

Need Help?

If that all sounds too confusing, feel free to contact our friendly team.