“Be a victor, not a victim.” Joel Osteen
The traditional criminal court system does very little to compensate victims of crime. Sure offenders, if their crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, will be sentenced. In my experience, very little time is spent considering compensating the victim of the crime. In rare circumstances, judges will order that restitution be paid by the offender. However, these people rarely have money to pay, or are imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. Not only that, it is only when the victim has suffered a monetary loss that a judge will order compensation. What about those who were victims of violence, sexual assault or other crimes? There is a lesser known system in Ontario designed to pay monetary awards to any victim of crime.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (“CICB”) is that alternative system. Any person who has been victimized can apply for monetary compensation from this Board. All it takes to start the process is to complete a form and provide the requested documents in support of the claim. Eventually, a hearing will be held before a number of board members. Another benefit of a CICB application is that the claim does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the high standard applied in the criminal court, but here the Board simply decides whether it is more likely then not the claim is true. That lower standard of proof is a key benefit to this system.
If it is determined that the applicant was in fact a victim of crime, a compensatory award of up to $20,000 will be paid. The money is not paid by the offender, but rather by the Province of Ontario. That means that the money will be paid quickly and in full. In addition to the $20,000 lump sum payment that is available, the Board can also pay continuing expenses for treatment and rehabilitation.
The compensation is available for the victim of any crime in Ontario, not just those that suffered monetary loss. However, there are two factors that can cause the Board to rule against you. Firstly, if you have failed to co-operate with the related police investigation, that could be held against you. It is not an absolute rule, but any failure to participate in the investigation will need to be adequately explained. In one case that I handled before the Board, I was able to demonstrate that my client was fearful for his life. He had a reasonable fear of the man that had assaulted him in his own home. In that case we were successful in obtaining an award of compensation.
The other factor that the Board must consider is whether the applicant is in someway responsible for what happened to him or her. If the you started a fight and then got severely injured, the Board will be less likely to make an award.
It is important for victims of crime to know that this Board exists as an alternative to the Criminal Court system. Both victims and alleged offenders have the right to be represented by a lawyer. Hiring an experienced lawyer to assist with a claim is in every claimant’s best interests.
The team at Hicks Adams LLP has extensive experience in these cases and is available for a free consultation. Call us at 416-975-1700.
Tyler Smith, Managing Partner, Hicks Adams LLP