Crime Victim's Guide to Justice: For Any State [NOOK Book]

Overview

DON'T BECOME A VICTIM of the Legal System
If you have been the victim of a crime, your involvement with the justice system is just beginning. As a crime victim, you have certain rights and obligations within the criminal justice system as well as the opportunity to seek your own justice and receive compensation for your injuries through civil court proceedings. Crime Victim's...

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Crime Victim's Guide to Justice: For Any State

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Overview

DON'T BECOME A VICTIM of the Legal System
If you have been the victim of a crime, your involvement with the justice system is just beginning. As a crime victim, you have certain rights and obligations within the criminal justice system as well as the opportunity to seek your own justice and receive compensation for your injuries through civil court proceedings. Crime Victim's Guide to Justice explains everything you need to know to get justice.

LEARN HOW TO:
- Report a crime and get the police to investigate your case
- Seek medical and emotional help for yourself
- Effectively testify at trial and sentencing
-Pursue a civil case against your assailant to win compensation

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION ON:
- Finding help when you are in an emotional crisis
- Obtaining crime victim's compensation
- How the court system works and what to expect
- Your rights as a victim
- And much more ...

"The feeling of powerlessness felt by the victim of a senseless crime should be alleviated to some degree by reading [Boland's] explanations and advice."
- Booklist

"Crime Victim's Guide to Justice should be on the reference shelf of every community library, social services agency, community services center, legal assistance office, and criminal law library in the country."
- Bookwatch

"[This book] will give you the knowledge and power to forge ahead if something happens to you."
- New Woman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402233197
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Series: Legal Survival Guides
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Mary L. Boland received her law degree from John Marshall Law School. She is a full-time prosecutor and an adjunct faculty member at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois. A long-time victim's advocate, she has worked to pass legislation protecting victim's rights and has served as a consultant to various federal agencies.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1: The Victim in the Criminal Justice System

The Rights of Victims
In colonial times, when a person committed a crime, it was considered to be an injury to the victim and the victim was entitled to prosecute the case. This system favored wealthy victims, however, because poorer victims did not have the financial resources to seek justice. To make the process fairer, the government took over the responsibility of prosecuting a person accused of committing a crime.

Crimes began to be considered public wrongs committed against the community, rather than private wrongs committed only against the individual victim. However, victims began to be considered a piece of evidence in the process, and they lost the ability to have meaningful participation in the process of justice.

For example, even though the crime is committed against the victim, the victim is often seen by the criminal justice system as peripheral to the case. The victim is not a party to the case, and cannot force the prosecutor to act on his or her behalf. The law does not permit a victim to privately prosecute a criminal case.

For many years, victims did not have any legal rights at all. They were expected to appear and give testimony, often without much preparation by the prosecutor. It may take months, even years, for a case to come to trial, and many victims just dropped out of the criminal court process.

In the 1970s, the crime victims' rights movement sought changes in the system to increase the rights of crime victims. President Reagan commissioned a task force on victims that produced a scathing report about the treatment of victims in the system and suggested numerous reforms. Improvements over the last twenty years include:

- rape evidence collection kits;
- better training of medical personnel;
- removal of victims' personal information from the public records;
- notification of victims when the perpetrator of a crime is released on bail;
- education of victims in court procedures;
- safe waiting areas for victims;
- limiting continuances;
- victims not being required to testify as to their addresses; and,
- assigning a single prosecutor for the entirety of the criminal case.

Rape Evidence Collection Kits
Before the presidential task force changed medical protocols, rape was not considered an injury by many hospitals. Rape evidence collection kits and the training of hospital staff are modifications that have improved the experiences of the victim. The kits standardized the type and quantity of evidence collected, so that all medical procedures and evidentiary requirements could be completed in most cases at the initial emergency room visit.

Training of Medical Personnel
The training of medical personnel improved the understanding of the dynamics of certain kinds of crimes, which resulted in more sensitive treatment of victims. For example, prior to training, some medical personnel blamed domestic violence victims for the crimes, asking, "Why didn't you leave, if this has happened before?" or "What were you two fighting about this time?" This made victims more reluctant to report the true nature of the injury. Some preferred to say that they had "fall en down stairs," or "bumped into a door," rather than be humiliated with questions or comments from medical staff. Training on the dynamics of domestic violence, including the cycle of violence often present in these cases, has improved the treatment of victims and made them more likely to report these types of crimes.

Public Records
Prior to the changes in the law, the victim's name and address were available as public records. As a result, victims were easily harassed by the media, insurance and security salesmen, and the perpetrators of the crimes. Today, the release of the victim's address on public records may be prohibited. Some states also provide victims with protection from the assailant's intimidation by adding new crimes for communication or harassment of a witness, and increasing penalties for offenders who harass witnesses prior to trial. In some states, the offender's bail may be revoked if he or she violates the condition prohibiting him or her from contacting the victim pending trial, and he or she could return to jail until trial.

Bail Conditions
After being arrested, some offenders continue to harass their victims, either from a jail phone or after being released on bail (often without the victim being made aware of the release). When releasing the accused on bail, judges were not always aware of continued threats or harassment of the victim. Today, prosecutors more often confer with victims regarding danger issues and bail conditions. In some states, information about bail release is available, and intimidation of the victim may specifically be cause for the revocation of bail.

Preliminary Hearing
Prior to changes in the law, victims did not know what was involved in a preliminary hearing, how long it would take, or how they should pre pare. Now, victims are entitled to know about the procedures. Prosecutors and victim-witness personnel take the time to prepare the victim before the different parts of the trial.

Safe Waiting Areas
Victims and assailants often came in contact with each other in the hall ways surrounding the preliminary hearings, causing the victim continued distress. Victims are now entitled to wait in areas that minimize contact with the defendant.

Continuances
Repeated continuances can cost the victim unnecessary expenses such as hiring a babysitter, leaving work, and parking. Some states require judges to consider the impact of continuances on a victim.

Testimony
Prior to 1982, refusing to disclose your home and work address could result in being held in contempt of court. In order to maintain the privacy of the victim, some states prohibit compelling a victim to testify as to his or her address and other identifying information unless there is a valid legal reason. Testifying can be a frightening experience, especially for a child. Today, victims may be entitled to have a support person present in court; child victims may be entitled to specialized consideration.

Prosecutors
Prosecutors could be repeatedly reassigned before the trial even began. Victims would have to tell each new prosecutor the same detailed story and would not receive notification of continuances. As a result of new laws, some prosecutor's offices have a single prosecutor stay with the case from start to finish in certain kinds of cases. Victims are also entitled to receive information on continuances. These are just some of the improvements that have evolved since the 1982 task force report.
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Table of Contents

Using Self-Help Law Books
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Victim in the Criminal Justice System.
The Rights of Victims
Constitutional Rights
The Rights of Crime Victims
Family Members and Loved Ones Witnesses
Technology and Crime
Technology and Victims
Enforcing Your Rights
Chapter 2: Getting Help
The Impact of Crime
Victim-Assistance Programs
Hotline Services
Crisis Counseling
The Crime Victim Advocate
Lawyers for Crime Victims
Finding Help
Chapter 3: Understanding Criminal Law
Overview
Criminal Law
Types of Crimes
Elements of Crimes
The Offender
The State's Case
The Defense's Case
Chapter 4: The Police
Reporting the Crime
The Role of Hospitals and Medical Personnel
The Police Investigation
The Rights of the Victim
Arrest of the Offender
What if Police Do Not Make an Arrest?
Chapter 5: Charging the Crime
Who Can File Charges
Deciding What to Charge
Methods of Charging
The Grand Jury
Time Limits
The Charges in Your Case
Chapter 6: Pretrial Procedures
The Victim's Right to Notice and to Protection
Speedy Trial
Arraignment—Defendant's Initial Appearance Bail
Preliminary Hearing
Pretrial Motions
Chapter 7: Plea Bargaining
Types of Plea Bargains
Procedures
Chapter 8: Criminal Trial
The Process of a Criminal Trial
The Victim's Right to be Present
The Defendant's Right to a Jury
Opening Statements
Evidence and Testimony
The State's Case
The Victim as a Witness
The Defense's Case
Closing Statements
Findings and Verdicts
Chapter 9: After the Trial
The Sentence
What the Sentence Really Means
Sentencing Dispositions
The Sentencing Hearing
The Victim Impact Statement
Violations of Sentencing Orders
Appeal
The Offender During an Appeal
What an Appeals Court Can Do
Release or Escape of the Offender
Chapter 10: Victim Privacy in the Criminal Justice System
Protecting the Victim's Privacy
Your Rights and the Media
Chapter 11: Recovering Your Losses
Crime Victim Compensation
Restitution and Reparation
Insurance
Considering Civil Court
The Effect of the Criminal Case on the Civil Suit
Chapter 12: The Civil Lawsuit
Advantages and Disadvantages
Procedures in Civil Cases
Identifying and Collecting Proof
The Basics of a Civil Suit
Enforcing the Judgment
Defendant's Suit Against the Victim
Chapter 13: The Role of Lawyers
Confidentiality
Finding a Lawyer
Fee Agreements
Working with Your Lawyer
Firing Your Lawyer
Conclusion
Glossary
Appendix A: Victim Resources
Appendix B: The Legal Rights of Victims
Appendix C: Legal Research
Appendix D: Case Management Guide
Appendix E: Sample Forms
Index
About the Author

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