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July 2020 – Victims of Crime Options

In Calgary, we didn’t protest. We stood in solidarity in front of City Hall showing full support for our fellow human beings in pride. 

In other places, particularly south of the border, it has been a completely different story. Protests turned violent, corruption occurred, and certain individuals ended up getting hurt.

While we avoided incidents in this scenario, remaining completely unscathed, people in Calgary do fall to, and become, victims of crime. 

There are several options for individuals exposed to or fearing potential crime :

  1. Emergency Protection Orders or Queen’s Bench Protection Orders – These orders are meant to ensure safety of an individual who has experienced domestic abuse or domestic violence. Seriousness or urgency needs to be demonstrated in order to grant such orders. These orders will be granted when violent or threatening behaviour occurs between family members, there is evidence that immediate protection is necessary and family violence will resume or continue in the interim. Restraining orders are a variation and apply to people who have lived together in a relationship. Fear for physical safety is the primary factor in considering, and an application can be brought forthwith without notification to the other party. 
  • Financial Assistance – Monetary compensation maty be available to acknowledge the seriousness of the crimes suffered by the victim, particularly if it impairs their daily functions. Further, financial assistance is available to assist with emergency safety and security expenses, court attendance expenses, as well as continuous access to psychological support such as counselling services, for injuries suffered from the crime. 

An application for financial benefits through the Victims of Crime Fund must be made within two years of the date of the incident. The process takes approximately four months to complete and the issuance of the one-time payout, but at times, has taken longer.

  • Restitution – Once charges have been laid, a victim is notified with respect to their rights through the accused’s criminal process. Part of this involves being notified that the victim can ask for restitution, which refers to the accused’s payment of expenses related to the crime that can be enforced through a Court order. Expenses that can be claimed include lost wages, value of wrecked, broken or stolen property, recovery of identity and credit rating, moving expenses out of the accused’s residence, and costs for psychological services such as counselling services. Pain or suffering or anything covered under an insurance policy is not reimbursable through restitution. 

It is important to assess the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly on the options that are available.

There is still some concern on the effectiveness of the options at hand. Recently, in June 2020, Bill 16 came out which would in essence allow the government to expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund, to help pay for other initiatives that deter crime. This could take away from the funding available to assist individuals criminally and brutally treated, which was the original intent of the fund. There is currently a $74 million built in surplus in the fund that is potentially at risk for unrelated ventures. 

In addition, in Canada, restitution orders are rarely used. In 2015 government statistics, restitution was granted only 2.3% of the time against all adult offenders. Further, the sentenced offender must be financially solvent in order to be able to pay the allocated restitution back to the victim.

All is not lost though. Once a crime occurs and is evident, charges will be laid. The criminal justice system is there to ensure adequate retribution for the victims. Any additional claims for pain and suffering, loss of wages and loss of quality of life can also be made against the accused in either Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Steve Dimic

If you have any additional inquiries regarding any of the topics or if you have ideas for future topics, please feel free to email me at steve@shieldlawgroup.ca or stevedimic@hotmail.com

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