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Dealing with Trauma and Tragedy

We can never fully anticipate the trauma we feel after being victimized. It is important to know what you can do and where you can turn to for help during this time. Some examples are friends, Employee Assistance Programs, Mental Health Agencies, Physicians and support groups.

What is an “Emergency Protection Order?”

Emergency Protection Orders address the immediate safety of victims of family violence. An EPO can order an abuser not to go to places where the victim regularly goes and not to communicate with the victim. The EPO can allow the victim and any children to stay in the home and order the abuser to leave.

An EPO can be applied 24 hours/day, seven days a week. There is no cost. The EPO must be scheduled for a review in the Court of Queens Bench no later than nine working days after it is granted.

Queen's Bench Protection Orders

Queen's Bench Protection Orders cover the same types of things that an EPO does. Where an EPO is for the immediate safety of a victim of family violence, a Queen's Bench Protection Order provides for longer-term planning and protection. It can be issued for up to one year. Additional conditions can be added to the Order. For example, it can order the abuser to reimburse the victim for loss of money or finances resulting from family violence. It can say which party can temporarily possess personal property. It can authorize counselling for a child without the consent of the abuser. A Queen's Bench Protection Order can be granted when an EPO is reviewed.


How Do I Recognise if Someone May Be Suicidal?

It is very difficult for most of us to imagine the pain of a suicidal person. When one is poised on the brink of suicide, there is a strong sense of ambivalence. Often times, it isn't really that they want to die, rather life's problems have stacked up so high that they just don't see any other way out.

At this point, tunnel-vision can set in and even though there are other ways out and many people who would gladly offer help, the suicidal individual can't see beyond his or her own pain. This tunnel-vision may also prevent the person from understanding the impact their death will have on family and friends.

One very common reaction to suicide is a sense of guilt felt by those left behind to grieve. Suicide is a very private, individual act and the motives for suicide are extremely complex. Friends and family may think the person "has it all," but the suicidal person doesn't see it that way and can't live up to those expectations.

Generally speaking, suicidal individuals are suffering from intense emotional and psychological pain. Their self-esteem is very low and there is a marked sense of sadness. It is a devastating symptom of many complex problems and it can happen to anybody, anywhere, at anytime.

Watch for marked changes in the personality, eating habits, sleeping patterns, appearance or sociability of those left grieving after a suicide.

If you are concerned, ask the person directly, "Has it ever been so bad that you have thought of killing yourself?" Listen non-judgmentally and direct the person to counselling or other resources.

If you are concerned about the person’s safety or the safety of others, call 911 and ask for the PACT Team (Police and Crisis Team) and say someone is/may be suicidal.


What Is A Victim Impact Statement?

Under provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a Victim Impact Statement allows you to express in writing to a Judge how being a victim of crime has affected you and those close to you.

The purpose of the Victim Impact Statement is to describe how the crime has affected you emotionally and physically and the overall effect it has had on your life. If charges are laid, and if the accused person is found guilty, your Victim Impact Statement will be considered by the Judge during sentencing.


Who May Prepare A Victim Impact Statement?

Anyone who is a victim of a crime may prepare a Victim Impact Statement. In a case where the victim has died or is not capable of preparing a Victim Impact Statement, the Victim Impact Statement may be prepared by a spouse or relative.


Do I Have To Prepare A Victim Impact Statement?

No. Your decision to prepare a Victim Impact Statement is a voluntary one. It provides you with an opportunity to participate in the criminal justice system by describing how the offence has affected you and those close to you.


Why Should I Prepare A Victim Impact Statement?

  • For yourself: The Victim Impact Statement provides you with an opportunity to describe how you have been affected by the crime.

  • For the Court: If a charge is laid and the accused person is found guilty, your Victim Impact Statement will be considered by the Judge at the time of sentencing. Your Victim Impact Statement will help the Court understand how the crime has affected you emotionally and physically and the overall effect the crime had on your life.


How And When Will My Victim Impact Statement Be Used?

  • For yourself: After a finding of guilt and before the offender is sentenced, your Victim Impact Statement will be provided to the Court. The Victim Impact Statement will be considered by the Judge at the time the offender is sentenced. The Judge, the Crown prosecutor, the defense lawyer and the offender will receive copies of your Victim Impact Statement. At the sentencing hearing, you may be cross-examined on the contents of your Victim Impact Statement.

  • Please note that sentencing can occur at any time: For example, if an accused person pleads guilty, sentencing could occur on short notice. In order for a Victim Impact Statement to be considered in these circumstances, it should be at the courthouse as soon as possible.


What Is Appropriate To Include In A Victim Impact Statement?

  • How the crime has affected you physically.
  • How the crime has affected you emotionally.
  • The overall impact of the crime on your life.

What Is NOT Appropriate To Include In A Victim Impact Statement?

  • A description of the crime or how the crime occurred.
  • Details of the crime, the time, date, location or sequence of events. This information will have been in the witness statement you gave to police. By the time your Victim Impact Statement is considered by the Court, the accused person has already been found guilty.
  • Offences the accused may have been charged with or convicted of in the past or since the incident in question.
  • Your opinions or criticisms about the accused person's character.
  • Your thoughts or recommendations as to the type of sentence or the severity of punishment the accused should receive.

If your Victim Impact Statement contains any of the above, the Court may disregard it.

Financial Benefits

Inquiries about the Financial Benefits Program and requests for application forms may be addressed to:

Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security

Victims of Crime Financial Benefits Program
  • 10th Floor, J.E. Brownlee Building
    10365 - 97 Street NW
    Edmonton, AB
    T5J 3W7

To call toll-free from anywhere in Alberta outside the Edmonton calling area, dial 310-0000 and ask for the above number.

www.victims.alberta.ca


What Are Financial Benefits?

The Financial Benefits Program recognizes or acknowledges victims who were physically or emotionally injured as a direct result of a violent crime in Alberta. It provides direct assistance with a one-time financial benefit based on the severity of the victim's injuries. The benefit amount is set in the regulation to the Act.

Are Costs And Losses Paid?

No. The Financial Benefits Program does not pay compensation for costs or losses. For example, it does not cover property damage, medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of wages or pain and suffering. Victims may seek restitution or take civil action for the recovery of costs or losses from the offender. Information on these processes may be obtained by contacting your nearest victim services program or police service. Information is also available on the Alberta government web site for victims at www.victims.gov.ab.ca.

Who Is Eligible For Financial Benefits?

You may be eligible for financial benefits if:
  • you have suffered physical or emotional injury as a direct result of being a victim of a violent crime that occurred in Alberta.
  • the crime was reported to police within a reasonable period of time and the victim co-operates with the investigation into the incident.
  • the application for financial benefits is received within two years of the date of the incident. Do not wait for a conviction or for charges to be laid.
    • Additional time to apply may be considered under certain conditions or if the applicant was unable to apply due to circumstances. Examples include: a victim who was hospitalized for an extended period and suffering from a brain injury or if the victim was a child and the parent or guardian did not apply on the child's behalf.
  • the applicant co-operates with the Financial Benefits Program and provides authorization to make inquiries and obtain the information necessary to make a decision on the application.
  • the crime results in death, where a surviving family member or any other person acting on behalf of the deceased wishes to apply for a death benefit. There is only one benefit awarded for a deceased victim and it may be split among eligible survivors.
The program recognizes that child victims and significantly incapacitated adults are not in a position to apply on their own behalf. In those instances, a guardian or someone acting for the victim may apply in their stead.

The following are not eligible for benefits

  • individuals who are charged and convicted of an offence as a result of the incident
  • secondary victims such as family members of the victim or witnesses to the crime
  • victims of motor vehicle or property offences, such as impaired driving or break and entry
Note: Alberta Justice may provide assistance to injury victims of motor vehicle crimes. Information about this program is available through the Alberta government web site or by calling Motor Vehicle Accident Claims at 780-427-8255.

What Is The Process?

In almost all cases, a completed application form is the only information you will need to submit. Financial Benefits Program staff will obtain any necessary police or medical records and reports to verify applications. All decisions on applications will be presented in writing.

How Long Does It Take?

Since no two applications are the same, this can vary greatly.

Is There A Review Process?

The Criminal Injuries Review Board is an appointed board with the authority to conduct independent reviews of the financial benefits decisions. The decision letter provided to applicants includes information on the review process.

Restitution for Victims of Crime

If you have suffered financial loss as a result of a crime, you may have the right to seek restitution from the offender. Restitution may also be sought from young offenders, however, limitations apply. Restitution is a way for the offender to repay you for the loss you have suffered.

The Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security helps communities assist victims of crime.

For further information contact:

Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security

Victims Programs
  • 10th Floor, J.E. Brownlee Building
    10365 - 97 Street
    Edmonton AB
    T5J 3W7

Call toll-free through Service Alberta: dial 310-0000 and ask for the above number.

www.victims.gov.alberta.ca


How Do I Apply For Restitution?

You are required to complete a Request for Restitution form, which will be provided to you by a police officer investigating your case. If a Request for Restitution form is not given to you, please ask for one. Once you have filled out the form, return it to the police as quickly as possible. The police will then send your form to the Crown prosecutor, who will determine whether an application will be made to the court. If the Crown declines to make the application, you may request the court to do so on its own motion. You may wish to contact your own lawyer in such a case.

How Will I Know The Status Of My Request?

You may make your inquiries at the Crown prosecutor's office, the police station or at the nearest police Victim Service Unit.

What Information Is Required On The Request For Restitution Form?

The form sets out the available categories of restitution and asks that you provide background to identify the incident, yourself and the offender. The amount of restitution must be easily established by the court.

Do I Have To Provide Proof Of My Loss?

Yes. You are responsible for bringing all necessary documents to court to assist in establishing the amount you are claiming.

Why Must I Submit The Request For Restitution Form To The Police As Quickly As Possible?

The form is needed quickly as the offender may plead guilty early. Where the Crown prosecutor determines that the application will be made to the Court, a copy of the Restitution form is provided to the defense counsel and/or offender in accordance with the disclosure practices.

Will I Have To Appear In Court?

The Crown prosecutor decides whether or not it is necessary for you to appear in court, and if it is, you will be notified.

When Can An Offender Be Ordered To Make Restitution?

After an offender is found guilty, the judge can consider restitution when sentencing.

What Restitution May Be Ordered By The Court As A Result Of A Crime?

  • Damage, destruction, loss of property: the restitution order will not exceed the value of property and will be reduced by the value of any property that has been returned.

  • Bodily or psychological harm: the restitution order will cover monetary loss including income or support.

  • Expenses incurred in moving out of the offender's house:: the restitution order will cover any reasonable expenses.

  • Losses incurred by unknowingly purchasing or lending money on stolen property: where the property has been returned to its lawful owner, the restitution order will cover the loss you have incurred. The order will not exceed the original amount you paid or the amount outstanding on a loan.


If I'm Not In Court, How Will I Get A Copy Of The Restitution Order?

A copy of the restitution order will be sent to you by the court. Ensure that the Provincial Court Clerk's Office has your current mailing address.


What Steps Do I Take After The Court Has Ordered Restitution For Me?

You are responsible for filing the order as a judgment in the Court of Queen's Bench. At that time inform Court of Queen's Bench of your current mailing address.

You are also responsible for enforcing the judgment in the same way as if you had brought an action in Civil Court and obtained a judgment.


Will I Have To Pay A Fee To File The Order In The Court Of Queen's Bench?

No. A Civil Court filing fee will not be charged for a restitution order.


What If Restitution Is Ordered, But Not Paid?

Victim service programs are not allowed to give legal advice; however, they can provide you with information about the civil claims process. You may wish to ask victim services for a brochure entitled "Getting and Enforcing Your Judgment in Alberta." As well, you may wish to consult a lawyer of your own choosing for advice on enforcing the judgment. The Lawyer Referral Service  (1-800-661-1095), sponsored by the Law Society of Alberta, allows you to consult a lawyer for 30 minutes at no charge. In addition, you may wish to listen to tapes offered by the Dial-a-Law service at 1-800-332-1091.


If The Court Does Not Grant Restitution Or I Am Unsatisfied With The Amount, Can I Pursue The Matter In Civil Court?

Yes. Applying for restitution does not stop you from using the Civil Court process.

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