The Court Decision - Information for Victims of Crime
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Once the court has heard all evidence and Crown and defence counsel have made their final statements, a decision is made about whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.
For a jury trial, the jury will decide whether the evidence supports a conviction and the judge will decide any questions of law. For a judge-alone trial, the judge will make all of the decisions.
Accused Found Guilty
Once an accused is found guilty of committing a crime, they are referred to as the offender. They will receive a sentence from the judge.
Your Victim Impact Statement, if you made one, may be considered by the court during sentencing.
The offender may have to serve their sentence in a correctional centre, in the community (either a suspended or conditional sentence or probation) or a combination of both. The judge also has other options, including imposing fines and conditions. See Sentencing for more information about possible sentences.
As a victim of crime, you have the right to ask for information about the sentence and what happens with the offender during their sentence.
To find this information, talk to a victim service worker or call the Victim Safety Unit.
Accused Found Not Guilty
If the accused is found not guilty, you may feel upset and confused. A not guilty finding can happen for many reasons. It does not necessarily mean the judge did not believe your testimony. Remember, the Crown must prove the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When an accused is found not guilty, or if court ends without a guilty verdict for some other reason, you can talk with Crown counsel to try to understand why this happened. It is also important to get support for yourself. You can talk to your victim service worker or call VictimLinkBC.
The decision of the court (judge or jury) is final. However, Crown or defence may be able to appeal the court’s decision.
When Court is Finished - Help and Support is Available
Even though the court process may be finished, going to court can be stressful and emotional. You may find you need support to work through your feelings and the after-effects of the experience. It is especially important for children and young people who have been victims or witnesses to have proper support after the trial.
A victim service worker can help by providing short-term emotional support and access to other community services, such as counseling and support groups, appropriate for your situation. For more information and to speak to someone who can refer you to a local victim service worker and local support services, please call VictimLinkBC.
Restorative justice is the process that brings together the offender, victim and community to help heal the damage that has been done. Participation is voluntary for the offender, victim and community.
Restorative justice activities can take place at any point in the process. They can include things like mediation, family conferencing and sentencing circles.
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