What are my rights?

When you first make contact
When you report a crime
During the investigation
When a decision is made to stop the investigation
When a decision is made not to prosecute
At court
When the offender is detained

 

When you first make contact

When you first contact the Gardaí (Irish police) or the Garda Ombudsman Commission, you are entitled to be offered a wide range of information. The information should include:

  • How to report a crime;
  • Details for who you can contact for updates and information about your case;
  • Information on victim support services, including domestic violence refuges;
  • Information on special protections available for victims who are under the age of 18;
  • When and how you can get protection from an offender or an accused person;
  • How and when you can get somebody to interpret what you are being told or how to get a translation of documents given to you;
  • What your role is in the criminal justice process;
  • If you are entitled to legal aid or advice, and if so how you can access it
  • Whether restorative justice schemes are available;
  • Where you may apply for compensation for injuries that you suffered as a result of the crime;
  • How and when a judge may make an order for you to receive compensation;
  • How and when you can expect to be paid any expenses you have had because you have taken part, or will take part, in a criminal case;
  • How and when you may make a victim impact statement;
  • Special measures available if you are a victim of crime in Ireland who is living in another EU Member State; and
  • How to lodge a complaint if your rights aren’t respected.

When you report a crime

You can bring someone with you

When you report a crime, when you make a statement and during subsequent interviews, you have the right to bring a person of your choice with you for support.

You can also bring a legal representative (solicitor), if you wish. However, the Gardaí can ask you to choose a different support person or legal representative if they think it is in your best interest or if they think the person you have chosen could interfere with the investigation.

You are entitled to written acknowledgment

After you report a crime, you have the right to receive a formal written acknowledgment of what you have reported.

You have a right to a copy of your statement

You will usually have the right to a copy of any statement you make to the Gardaí. You can get this by asking the investigating Garda or the Garda Victim Service Office.

You can report a crime that occurred in another EU country

If you were a victim of a crime in another EU country, you can report the crime to the Gardaí in Ireland.  The details of your complaint should then be forwarded by the Gardaí to the appropriate law enforcement agency in the EU country where the crime was committed.

During the investigation

Interviews and medical examinations should be kept to a minimum and only done when necessary for the investigation.

You have the right to ask the Gardaí to keep you informed about significant developments in the investigation. However, you do not have a right to any information that could damage the investigation or put someone in danger.

If property is taken from you as part of the investigation, it should be returned to you without delay whenever possible. However, sometimes your property will have to be used as evidence in a criminal trial. If this happens, you may not be able to get this property back until the court case ends.

When a decision is made to stop the investigation

Sometimes the Gardaí decide to stop actively investigating a crime without identifying a suspect. You have the right to request a summary of reasons for the decision to stop investigating your case.

When a decision is made not to prosecute

Sometimes the Gardaí identify the person who they think committed a crime but a decision is made not to prosecute the suspect.

The decision not to prosecute is made by either the Gardaí or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). When this happens, you have a right to request a summary of reasons for the decision. You must make your request within 28 days of the date you are told of the decision not to prosecute.

You also have a right to ask for the decision not to prosecute to be reviewed and reconsidered. You must send your request for a review within 56 days of the date you were told of the decision not to prosecute. Alternatively, if you have asked to be given a summary of reasons for the decision, you have 28 days from the date that you receive the summary to make your request.

Sometimes the Gardaí decide to stop actively investigating a crime without identifying a suspect. You have the right to request a summary of reasons for the decision to stop investigating your case.

Both the Gardaí and the DPP have a form you can complete to request a summary of reasons and a review. You can get this form from the Gardaí, the DPP or the Crime Victims Helpline.

At court

You are entitled to ask and be told by the Gardaí:

  • when and where the court case you are involved in will take place,
  • what the suspect is being charged with and, if they are convicted,
  • the date they will be sentenced.

If a suspect has been arrested, you may have the right to be heard at a hearing where a decision is made about whether they should be released from custody on bail. For you to exercise this right, the Gardaí must ask the judge who is hearing the case whether or not you can be heard. It is up to the judge to decide.

If you give evidence in court, you can ask for an interpreter to be there. You do not have to pay for this. If your request for an interpreter is refused, you can appeal that refusal.

If the offender pleads guilty or is found guilty, you have a right to make a personal statement before they are sentenced. This is called a victim impact statement. It gives you a chance to describe, in your own words, how the crime has impacted you physically, emotionally and financially.

You have the right to ask for, and be told about, any final decision in a case and the reasons for the decision. However, you do not have a right to be given a reason in a case where a jury made the decision.

When the offender is in prison or other place of detention

When an offender is put in prison, a children’s detention centre or the Central Mental Hospital, you have the right to ask for, and to be told:

  • their expected release date (month and year);
  • when they are about to be released or transferred, and
  • if they escape from or die in custody.