The justice system can be complicated and unfamiliar but knowing what to expect can help. We can help you understand and engage with the justice system, answer any questions you have, and be there for you if you want someone to listen.
We can support you with:
You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.
If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.
A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.
Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.
For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.
For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.
If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.
If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.
Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.
Support through the criminal justice system
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Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.
A Victim Impact Statement gives victims a voice in the court process. It is your opportunity to tell the court and the offender how the crime has personally affected you, as a victim, and to help the court understand your views about the offending.
Victims can choose whether or not they want to make a Victim Impact Statement.
In a criminal case the judge is required to consider a range of relevant information when deciding on the most appropriate sentence for an offender. This could include the maximum penalty for the type of offence, anything about the offender that is relevant, such as their age or a history of previous offending, and how the offending has affected you, or your family or whānau.
Victim Impact Statements are one of the many factors the judge must consider in order to arrive at an appropriate outcome.
If the defendant is either found guilty or pleads guilty, the judge will take into account your Victim Impact Statement during sentencing. Your statement helps the judge understand the crime's impact on your life; emotionally, physically, financially, socially and psychologically.
If the defendant is found not guilty, the judge will not be able to consider your Victim Impact Statement.
The police officer in charge of the case, usually called the "OC" or Officer in Charge, will ask you to prepare a Victim Impact Statement. You will usually be asked to do this when charges are being filed, but before the defendant’s first court appearance (where possible).
It’s the victim’s decision if they want to make a Victim Impact Statement or not. Even without a Victim Impact Statement, the judge will consider the crime's impact on you, but this will be based solely on the evidence presented in the case. If you decide to make one, you should contact the Officer in Charge of the case.
The benefits and challenges of making a Victim Impact Statement will be different for each person, but making a statement can help empower you as it’s your one formal opportunity to tell the court and the defendant how you’ve been affected by the crime. It can sometimes help you begin your recovery from the crime.
You can prepare your own Victim Impact Statement but if you are unable to write one yourself, or would like some assistance, the Officer in Charge of your case is available and trained to assist with this.
The Court Victim Advisor that has been assigned to you and your Support Worker are also able to help you prepare your statement. You don’t have to do it alone.
A Victim Impact Statement can be delivered in writing or recorded in another way (e.g. audio recording).
Victims can submit a Victim Impact Statement in te reo Māori or NZ sign language. If a victim does not speak English as their first language, the police can arrange for an interpreter to assist.
Your statement should be as clear and concise as possible to give the judge enough time to fully consider it, especially when there are multiple statements. If you choose to present your statement in court, there may be a time limit.
The police can give you a Victim Impact Statement template, but you can use any plain A4 paper. Your statement should be typed and include the case number, the name of the Officer in Charge of your case, and your name and date of birth. Make sure to sign the statement yourself or have it signed by the Officer in Charge on your behalf.
If you prefer, you can present your statement in another format like an audio recording. Adding photos, drawings, or any other visual aids can help the court understand the crime's impact on you. For example, children may draw pictures to accompany a parent or guardian’s statement or families may provide photos of victims who have died or have been seriously injured to show the court how they looked before the crime occurred.
Your Victim Impact Statement should be relevant and include appropriate information to help the court with sentencing.
Physical injury: Any injuries or illnesses you have that related to the crime, their severity and long-term effects, medical treatments received, and their impact on your lifestyle.
Emotional effects: Changes in your attitudes, behaviours or relationships due to the crime, short and long-term mental health trauma, and any counselling sought or received.
Financial effects: The value of any of your property damaged, lost, or destroyed, uninsured costs, loss of work, medical and therapy expenses, lost opportunities, and consequential losses.
The judge may consider these when deciding on reparation (payments to the victim) though the offender's financial situation can affect this decision.
If the victim has died: The family can share stories about the victim's life and the impact of the death on those left behind.
Other information: The impact on your family or whānau (with their agreement) can be included. Facts from the case can be briefly mentioned, but the key focus should be on the harm suffered.
If you include information that falls outside the purpose of a Victim Impact Statement, the Officer in Charge of the case will help you change it so it can be submitted to court.
Threats to the offender or their kin: Threats to harm someone are a crime.
Abusive comments: Focus on the crime's impact on you and the offender’s actions, not your opinion of the offender.
Irrelevant information: Include only facts related to the crime and don't include any misleading information that might discredit your statement.
Confidential data: Never share private information about anyone involved, including victims.
References to unproven offences: Address only the crime the offender has been convicted of, not alleged offenses you think the offender may have committed.
Comments about the legal professionals: This includes the judge, prosecution, defence, witnesses or jury.
These examples aren't exhaustive but indicate what to generally avoid in a Victim Impact Statement.
This usually happens when criminal charges are being filed with the court, but before the defendant’s first court appearance (where possible). The Officer in Charge will make sure it’s completed by the second appearance of the defendant in court, as this is when the defendant may enter a plea. Once completed, the police will hold onto your Victim Impact Statement as part of the case materials.
To keep your Victim Impact Statement current throughout the court proceedings, you can update it. It's crucial to prepare this statement early and keep it up-to-date. You'll be prompted to check and update your statement at key court stages, like when sentencing is indicated. This process is coordinated with the Police Prosecution Service and the Officer in Charge.
The prosecutor is obligated to submit your Victim Impact Statement to the court at sentencing, provided you have chosen to prepare one.
Typically, a judge almost always allows a victim of a serious crimes to have their Victim Impact Statement read out in court. You may choose to read it out yourself or have someone else do it on your behalf.
The judge can restrict some or all of a Victim Impact Statement from being read out in certain circumstances if there's a good reason, like inconsistent content, risk to someone’s safety.
The defendant can request to see a copy but can't keep it without your consent. If the victim's safety is a concern, the judge can order certain parts of the statement to be withheld from the defendant. However, this information cannot be considered during sentencing, as defendants are entitled to see any information that may impact their sentence.
When a court case ends, your Victim Impact Statement becomes part of the official court file. Any member of the public or a journalist can ask to read a court file, although the court might not always allow it. The defendant cannot keep a copy of your statement without you agreeing.
If the judge speaks about your Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing hearing, then their comments can made available to media to report on. Newspapers and other media are never allowed to name sexual violence victims or child victims and defendants in their news reports.