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Psychological effects of criminal proceedings through contact with the judge: the moderating effect of legal system structure

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Psychological effects of criminal proceedings on victims have often been the focus of victimological research. The criminal justice system is repeatedly acknowledged as a source of additional harm for victims. Such a generalization, however, cannot be made to all legal systems universally to the same degree. This article compares the adversarial and inquisitorial structures of criminal justice and examines how the latter may in fact be beneficial to victim's well-being. More specifically, contact with the judge and presence at trial may be one positive form of victim participation in its most informal sense. Hierarchical regression analysis is conducted using victims of serious crimes in the Netherlands and New South Wales (NSW), Australia, to test this hypothesis. The type of legal system (i.e., inquisitorial versus adversarial) is used as a moderating variable on the relationship between contact with the judge and psychological effects. The findings indicate that victims in the Netherlands report a significant relationship, where contact with the judge is predictive of a less negative impact on psychological effects, while a non-significant relationship is found for victims in NSW.
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Keywords: comparative criminal justice; participation; procedural justice; psychological effects; victims

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: International Victimology Institute Tilburg, University of Tilburg, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 14, 2014

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