PROGRAMS & SERVICES: Legal Support Services
What can we help with?
pre-court interviews: to explain what is happening and to answer questions
court accompaniment: to provide support before, during, and/or after the court procedures (depending upon a client's needs, and the availability of our staff)
legal documents: to assist with the completion of documents, such as "Victim impact Statements" and "Criminal Injuries Compensation Claims"
for more information - see Resources
We recognize that the legal system can be confusing and overwhelming to navigate as a survivor. We provide support to survivors who are considering reporting.
Our agency goals are to
advocate for survivors
share information and resources concerning the criminal justice system, so folks know what is happening and what to expect
help folks make informed decisions about their options, and provide information about where they can get answers to their questions
work in conjunction with existing community agencies (e.g., shelters, the – Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral)
support survivors in their rights to choose the elements of their personal healing journeys
Survivors often find
the criminal justice system confusing and overwhelming after reporting a sexual assault.
Our organization offers
support and information to survivors to help them through this difficult process.
What are the legal options after a sexual assault?
What steps can I take?
Do Nothing (No legal Action)
You do not have to report the sexual assault to the police. Many survivors choose this option because for them, going through the related criminal justice process is
akin to being re-victimized.
Make a Report to the Police
If you choose to make a statement to the police, we advise you to get in touch with us first, for informed consent about the legal system.
If you don't report a sexual assault to the police immediately, you may do so at a later date - even months or years after the offence. It should be noted, however, that providing sufficient evidence of a sexual assault to meet the police requirements in terms of laying a charge (and/or the court requirements regarding a trial) usually becomes increasingly difficult as more time passes.
If you are not sure whether or not you want to make a report to the police, write down everything that you remember about the sexual assault (e.g., date and location, the time of day, description of the offender, what the offender did to you). Include even the smallest detail that you can recall, so you have this information on hand for a future report. Small details like what you recall with your 5 senses are all helpful.
Make a Third-Party Report
The report consists of making a statement about the details of the sexual assault against another person. You may be contacted again at a later date (e.g., in the event of an investigation or trial).
File a Civil Suit
This allows for the possibility of making a financial claim against the offender for such things as pain and suffering, financial loss, and/or medical expenses resulting from the sexual assault. A civil suit may be filed regardless of whether or not criminal charges have be brought against the offender. Contacting a lawyer is necessary to discuss the circumstances of such a suit. Many lawyers will make an agreement with you that their payment occurs at the time of your settlement.
Survivors of recent or historical sexual assault may contact their regional Victim Services (VCAO) agency to determine their eligibility for compensation.
Survivors have up to six months from the date of their disclosure of the assault to apply for this compensation, and may be eligible for up to $1000 towards counselling or for transportation costs to their counselling.
Call MPSSAS for a referral if needed.
We are presently piloting an advocacy program in which our advocate can possibly sit in on your Muskoka OPP statement.
The advocate will help discuss the legal system with you, and your interview can take place in our offices. Your police statement will be video taped and you can receive the outcome of the investigation with an advocate present as well.