Victim Within The Criminal Justice System Criminology Essay

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An offender is an accused defendant who is convicted of a serious crime and who is set to appear before the criminal court. There are 37.2 offenders in total in Ireland. 38.1 of them are male and 32 of them are female. There are 53.6% of people aged under 18 who commit crimes. 33.5% of offenders get community service and 39.3% are out on a type of probation order. The most impressive statistic was that 63% of offenders did not re-offend within two years. [2] 

A victim is someone who has been harmed or affected by an offence caused by another person. Victims of violent crime may suffer financial stress as well as suffering from their injuries and emotional trauma. Recovering from violence or abuse can have effect on them for the rest of their lives as they could live in fear and suffer anxiety. Lots of people are shocked after a crime and how they feel emotionally. Theses emotions can have many effects and can leave you feeling unhappy and confused. And this can also affect family and friends around you, your emotions can have an impact on them as they will be concerned for you. Although many people feel that they have to be able to cope with this emotional burden and are expected to live out their daily lives as if nothing has happened, most victims will need counselling to come to terms with what has happened. [3] 

For this essay we have chosen to talk about the victim as we think the victim suffers the most physically and emotionally. The victim of a crime can need counselling to help them come to terms with their emotions and fears.

Discussion

There are many different ways a person can be a victim. Someone can be a victim for anything from a minor crime up to a major crime. Examples of where someone can be a victim are from theft, robbery, burglary, assault, dangerous driving, sexual offences, murder and manslaughter and human trafficking. [4] In many cases of crime it is not just the victim that can be affected, their family can also be affected, more so in the major crime cases of dangerous driving, sexual offences, murder and manslaughter.

As we previously mentioned, there are many types of victims when it comes to crime, and usually the person's role within, and there perspective of the criminal justice system will change depending of the circumstances of each case. For example somebody pressing charges for something minor such as vandalism is going to expect far less drastic results than say somebody who has been the victim of rape. Also we noted that there was a staggering amount of rape crime actually reported in this country, The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre recorded 11,839 calls to their helplines, with over 9,000 of them being genuine, so when we realised the problem that exists with rape in this country we decided we would use rape cases as the main focal point of our group paper. [5] 

Rape cases can differ a lot from another type of case .For example while trials in general take place in public in our state, rape cases will be held in camera, so as to protect the victim's anonymity. In some serious cases as well such as rape, arrangements may be made so that the accused does not have to appear in court along with the accused, and may instead be allowed to give evidence via a video link from another area of the courts. [6] 

In rape cases this would be of particular benefit to the victim, who due to the sensitive nature of the crime and the traumatic experience they have already been through may find the prospect of having to come face to face with their attackers in the courtroom too daunting and not be able for it.

Report the crime

The victim should report the crime to the police as soon as the crime has occurred. When a victim reports a crime quite quickly after the crime has occurred it allows the police to gather any evidence that may fade over time. Prompt reporting will support the victim's account of what happened. Many victims of sexual assault are unsure whether they want a case to be prosecuted. Victims who are unsure about prosecution are advised to seek information about guidance to make an informed decision. For example, even if the victim is not ready to prosecute immediately after the crime, prosecutors have at least six years or more to file sexual assault charges. It is important to note that even if a crime is not immediately reported, that prosecution may still be possible. A delay in reporting is typical for safety reasons. [7] The role of a victim is extremely important in the Criminal justice system. They must go through a number of stages in the criminal trial process in order to feel justice was served. The first stage is actually reporting the crime. This can be difficult for many as there are a number of doubts in their minds. Such as trust in the gardai, recount the details etc. 'It estimated in 2007 that "about 30 per cent" of burglaries were unreported, as were nearly four in 10 incidents of theft with violence. Offences of a sexual nature and domestic violence are "grossly under-recorded" [8] This is astonishing and very worrying for our criminal justice system.

Preserve of evidence

If a crime is reported, the police will gather and keep all of the evidence from the crime, which includes: bloodstained clothing, bedding, weapons and damage to property. The police will also take photographs of injuries, damage to property and also photographs of where the crime occurred. Photographs should also be taken of the victims injuries after the crime to show the stages of healing.

Testify

If the case proceeds to trial, victims should expect to testify.

Adult victims: Testimony is less formal before the grand jury than in a courtroom setting. The grand Jury proceedings are private. They're one on one with the prosecutor and the victim. The Prosecutor asks the victim questions in order to get an understanding of the case. This testimony only lasts about an hour.

Testifying at trial is more formal. The victim has to wait outside the court room until it is her time to testify. The prosecutor will ask the victim questions first. Then the defence attorney scrutinizes the victim. The judge's role is to also make sure that the questions asked by the attorneys are appropriate according to legal rules. There is no set time on the length of a trial testimony. The prosecutor will help the victim on preparing them for the types of questions that may be asked. The victim witness advocate will help the victim on ensuring the feelings that she may evoke on testifying and helps to provide the victim with all the support that she may need in making it a less scary situation. Sometimes criminal prosecutions go in the favour of the victim as the offender may admit to everything. This means that the victim doesn't have to testify in court.

Child Victims: Young children are usually asked questions by the Judge. The judge has to be content that the child understands the legal rules of a courtroom and the oath in which it is vital that he/she must tell the truth. The courtroom can be a very scary place for a child this is why the judge ensures that the child can handle testifying. [9] 

Pressing charges

Some victims may personally know the suspect that committed the crime against them. Some may be related such as a mother and son relationship. In this case it is hard for the victims to choice between seeking justice and doing what is best for both the criminal and themselves.

Going to court

The next stage the victim goes through is the court case. This is undoubtedly the most daunting experience for the victim. Particularly for child abuse cases and rape cases. In the case of Frances Andrade, she subsequently killed herself after giving evidence in court. She said it felt like 'getting raped all over again'. She was sexually abused by her music teacher when she was in school. When it came around to giving evidence she felt that recounting the details in a court atmosphere was worse for her than the rape itself. Andrade killed herself the day after she heard her abuser giving his side of the story. However, some may say that by allowing the victim giving evidence they feel that they are participating in seeking justice for themselves.

Conclusion

We have discussed in detail the role and perspective of the victim in the criminal justice system in order to seek justice. We as a group unanimously feel that the role of the victim in the criminal justice system is crucial for receiving the justice they deserve. From summary and indictable to serious offences, justice must be served in every case and the role and perspective of the victim is important in delivering justice.

 

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