Compensation orders in criminal cases

When will compensation orders be made in criminal cases?

A compensation order can sometimes be made in criminal cases to provide relief to the victim of a crime. Compensation orders made require that the offender, who has been found guilty of an offence, pay the amount specified by the court, usually within 28 days of the order made.

What types of criminal charges apply?

Compensation orders can be made in various criminal cases, including:

  • Fraud offences (where the offender has been found to have caused monetary loss)
  • Stealing offences (where property has been stolen by the offender)
  • Offences involving violence (where medical expenses are paid by the victim for their injuries)
  • Property damage offences(where the offender has caused damage to property of the victim)

When will a court make orders for compensation against an offender?

Generally a court will only order compensation against an offender in favour of the victim when the Prosecution seeks the order at the time of sentencing. In this circumstance, if the amount is a reasonable sum and not excessive, the court will exercise its discretion and make the compensation order. If the prosecution does not seek the order, the sentencing court will generally not make a compensation order.

If the court does not make a compensation order, can the victim seek compensation another way?

Yes. Victim’s Compensation is available through the Victim’s Compensation Tribunal, or compensation can be sought through various civil proceedings that are available to the victim.

The Victim’s Compensation Tribunal (VCT)

A “Victim’s Compensation Application” (VCA) can be made through the VCT. These applications are restricted to criminal offences involving an “act of violence”. An award of Victim’s compensation through the VCT is limited to $50,000.00.

If an order has been made against you, you have the option to do one of the following:

  • Pay the amount specified in the order;
  • Object to the amount specified in the order;
  • Ask for periodic payment methods, allowing you further time to pay.

Civil Proceedings in Court

You can always make a claim through the courts against someone who has caused you loss as a result of a criminal offence. It is important that you speak to an experienced compensation lawyer about your prospects in suing another person for compensation.