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Legalese - November 22, 2007 Victim CompensationbyWilliam A. Florence, Barrister and Solicitor

Legalese is a column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

Injunction _served

It is commonly known that when there is a violent crime in Ontario, it is the role of the criminal justice system to determine whether the alleged offender is guilty of an offence against the Criminal Code. To get a conviction, the crown attorney must establish that the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged offender is guilty. If a victim of a violent crime wishes to pursue a financial remedy against the alleged or convicted offender, the process would be through the civil courts.

However, not everyone may be aware that financial compensation for victims of violent crime in Ontario may be available from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. It operates pursuant to the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter C. 24. This legislation was designed to assist victims of violent crimes by providing them with financial compensation. If compensation is awarded, it comes from the Ontario government, as opposed to coming from the alleged or convicted offender. Whether any compensation will be provided, and the amount of compensation, is determined by the Board.

Compensation is not available for property damage, theft, or legal fees incurred for criminal and/or legal proceedings before the courts. The Board will only award compensation where “any person is injured or killed by any act or omission in Ontario of any other person occurring in or resulting from”:

A violent crime that is an offence against the Criminal Code, (although not including offences that involve the use of a motor vehicle, unless the driver intended to use the motor vehicle to deliberately injure the victim);

Injuries that occur while the victim tried to prevent a crime, or was helping a police officer make an arrest;

Injuries that a victim suffers which leads to the loss of the applicant’s income or expenses as a result of the applicant being responsible for the care of the victim; and

If the victim was murdered, a dependant of the victim may apply to the Board.It is not necessary that there be a criminal conviction, or even charges laid, for an applicant to be eligible for compensation. However, if there is a conviction, this would be conclusive evidence for the purposes of the Board that the offence was committed.

The Board may award compensation for the following:

Treatment - medical, dental and/or therapy expenses;

Funeral and burial expenses;

Legal representation and costs (if the lawyer assists with the claim to the Board, however not for attending the Board hearing, or other court proceedings);

Travel expenses;

Pain and suffering;

Income loss; and

Loss of support.

There is a time limitation on when one can apply to the Board for compensation. The limitation is two years after the date of the injury or death of the victim. Under certain circumstances the Board can decide to extend this limitation period.

The Board can either make a decision based only on written submissions and supporting documentation or it will hold an oral hearing where the parties attend in person. Prior to the written or oral hearing, it is possible to apply for an interim payment in respect of support, medical expenses, and funeral expenses. Of course, money itself cannot make up for injuries suffered; yet, the Board does provide the victim with an opportunity for recognition of what they have suffered.

If you would like additional information about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, you can contact Rural Legal Services, or contact the CICB directly, at 1-800-372-7463.

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