Victims of crime and the law
There are several laws that deal with the rights of victims of crime in Ireland. On this page, you can read about some of these laws. They are grouped together by subject matter.
Criminal Evidence Act 1992
This Act makes it easier for witnesses to give evidence in physical or sexual abuse cases by allowing for a live television link with the court. In some cases, this Act forces the spouse of the accused to give evidence for the prosecution.
The Act makes it easier for children to give evidence by getting rid of:
- The need to give evidence on oath
- The need for corroboration (previously, additional evidence confirming the evidence given by the child was needed)
- The wearing of wigs and gowns by barristers when evidence is being given by video link
Criminal Justice Act 1999
This Act deals with the protection of witnesses, including victims, who may have to give evidence in court.
It allows witnesses who are in fear or subject to intimidation to give evidence by a live video link.
It also makes it an offence to intimidate a witness, a jury member or any person helping the Gardaí with a criminal investigation. The penalty is up to 15 years imprisonment.
Victims of violent crimes
Criminal Justice Act 1993
This Act forces the court to consider the effect of a violent or sexual offence on the victim when it is deciding the sentence.
If you are a victim of a violent or sexual offence, you are also entitled to give evidence in court about how the crime affected you.
The Act allows the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal lenient sentences. It also gives the court the power to force the offender to pay compensation to the victim for any personal injury or loss suffered.
Civil Legal Aid Act 1995
Under this Act, the Legal Aid Board provides legal aid or advice to a complainant in certain criminal cases involving prosecution for a range of sexual offences, including rape, aggravated sexual assault and incest. A complainant is the person making the complaint.
The Board also provides legal advice in relation to criminal matters to alleged victims of human trafficking.
Domestic Violence Act 2018
This Act consolidates previous domestic violence legislation. It provides protection where there is a violent family member.
The main kinds of protection available are:
A safety order prohibits the violent person from further violence or threats of violence. It does not oblige the person to leave the family home. If the person does not live with you, it prohibits them from watching or being near your home, or communicating with you (including electronic communication).
A barring order requires the violent person to leave the family home. The order also prohibits the person from further violence or threats of violence, and from watching or being near your home or communicating with you (including electronic communication).
There are other orders that can be put in place which are temporary.
Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008
This Act makes it an offence to traffic in adults or children for the purpose of their sexual or labour exploitation, or for the removal of their organs.
It also makes it an offence to sell or purchase, or offer to sell or purchase, any person for any purpose. It is also an offence to solicit a trafficked person for prostitution.
Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013
This amendment to the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 makes it an offence to traffic in adults or children for the purpose of forcing them to engage in criminality, labour, enslavement and begging.
Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017
This Act puts EU legislation on the rights of victims of crime into Irish law. It sets out the minimum rights, supports and protections for victims of crime, including:
- The right to be given detailed information about the criminal justice system
- The right to be given information on victim support services
- The right to be kept informed of the progress of the investigation and any court proceedings
- The right to have protection needs assessed and have measures put in place to stop further victimisation and intimidation
- The right to be told of a decision not to prosecute and the right to ask for a review of that decision
- The right to be given information in clear language and to have access to interpretation and translation services if needed
You can read more about your rights as a victim of crime.
Other relevant legislation
Bail Act 1997
This Act tightened up the bail regime. A court can refuse bail to a person charged with a serious offence if it is likely that the person may commit another serious offence while they are on bail. In addition, the Act requires a court to impose consecutive sentences when an offence is committed on bail.
If An Garda Síochána suspects that somebody has or is about to breach a bail-bond, and if they believe that person may pose a threat to a victim or witness involved in the case, the Gardaí can arrest the person without a warrant.
Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011
This law provides that people are entitled to use reasonable force in defence of people and property if they believe that an intruder has entered their dwelling to commit a criminal act.
For further information about the legislation relating to victims of crime, you can contact the Department of Justice. You can also learn more about your rights and entitlements as a victim of crime on the Victims Charter website.