Crime Victim's Guide to Justice



If you have been the victim of 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-and opportunities to seek justice ...

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If you have been the victim of 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-and opportunities to seek justice outside of the criminal process, through litigation in civil court.

This book provides websites and email addresses, and explains the legal system, and your rights or duties regarding such matters as:
Reporting a crime
Seeking medical and emotional help
Protecting your privacy rights
Knowing police investigation procedures
Arresting the perpetrator
Filing criminal charges
Crime mapping
Protecting yourself and your family from harassment
Proceeding before trial
Testifying at trial
Testifying at sentencing
Filing and pursuing a civil lawsuit against the criminal
Obtaining crime victim’s compensation
Getting information from the court and court personnel
Understanding online crimes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572481633
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Series: Legal Survival Guides Series
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary L. Boland received her law degree from John Marshall Law School. Ms. Boland has worked tirelessly protecting the rights of children and mothers, as well as being 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. She is currently the chair of the Victim's Committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association and co-chair of the Victims Issues Committee of the Prose

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Read an Excerpt

Your Privacy Rights as a Crime Victim

Excerpted from Crime Victim's Guide to Justice by Mary L. Boland ©2001

The criminal justice system is generally open to the public. The concept of a public proceeding promotes fairness and openness in decision making. News media often assign reporters to cover police beats and trial dockets. Many people will recall the tremendous press coverage of well-known defendants, such as O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson. The theory is that the public has the right to know what goes on in the courts in order to guard against government abuse that could occur if secret proceedings were permitted. In addition to the public's right to know, the press has a First Amendment right to obtain information and report on what goes on in the courts. But respecting the media's First
Amendment rights can conflict with the profound impact that the crime has on a victim's sense of privacy, safety, and security. The public nature of criminal justice proceedings may intimidate some victims from seeking justice. Therefore, states have attempted to balance the privacy interests of victims with the openness of criminal proceedings.

During the 1980s, the growing victim's rights movements increased sensitivity to the issue of victim privacy. Some police routinely black out identifying information from police reports. Since the press has usually obtained identifying information about the victim of a crime from police records, this can protect a victim from press scrutiny before trial. Also, some members of the press are sensitive to crime victims' privacy interests and may have an internal policy that prohibits printing avictim's name and address in certain kinds of cases, like sex crimes. (But in 1980, the United States Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment requires that in all but rare cases the criminal trial had to remain open to the public and the press.) Thus, once the case is filed, court documents with victim information become available to the press.

Some states have responded by enacting legislation that would prohibit police, prosecutors, or other public officials from releasing this information to the press. Thus, private identifying victim information does not become part of the public record. For example, Pennsylvania law provides that the victim's address and phone number shall not be disseminated to persons other than the police, prosecutor, or corrections officials without the consent of the victim.

There is also some protection for victims while testifying in open court. In some states, a victim cannot be compelled to testify as to his or her address or phone number. Ohio, for example, permits a prosecutor to seek a court order to protect the victim from being compelled to provide a home address, business address, phone numbers, or similar identifying information.

Cameras have also invaded the courtrooms. By the end of 1991, 38 states permitted cameras in trial as well as appellate courts. In some states, only appellate courts permit cameras, but in others, like California, it is within the discretion of the trial judge to permit cameras in the courtroom. Some judges protect a victim's privacy by not permitting the cameras to show the victim's face while testifying.

The choice to speak to the media is the victim's. Sometimes reporters can become demanding, but a victim is never required to give any kind of statement to the press. On the other hand, some victims have chosen to publicize their cases in an effort to gain attention to the crime or their treatment, and media coverage can be a cathartic experience for some victims.

If you do choose to give an interview, remember that you have the right to refuse to answer any question or set limits on the areas of the interview. For example, you can choose the time and the place for the interview. You have the right to discuss with that reporter what the purpose of the interview is before the interview begins. You can also ask the reporter not to go into certain areas or show your face or present certain pictures. You can also choose to speak to a certain reporter, and just because you have spoken to one reporter, that does not mean that you must speak to any who approach you. You can also decide to stop speaking to reporters at any time. If you feel more comfortable, you can simply choose to release a statement in writing to the press.

For additional guidance and information, the National Center for Victims of Crime has developed guidelines for dealing with the press interviews and for being a guest on a talk show.

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Table of Contents

Using Self-Help Law Books
Chapter 1The Criminal Justice System

The Law

The System

Types of Crimes

Elements of Crimes

The Offender

The State’s Case

The Defense Case

Surviving the System
Chapter 2Getting Help

Victim-Assistance Programs

Hotline Services

Crisis Counseling

The Crime Victim Advocate

Finding a Program
Chapter 3The Victim in the Criminal Justice System

Family Members and Loved Ones


The Growth of Victims’ Rights

Constitutional Rights of Victims

Victim “Bill of Rights” Laws

The Right to Restitution

The Right to Compensation

The Right to Civil Justice

Case Management
Chapter 4Your Privacy Rights

Protecting the Victim’s Privacy

Your Rights and the Media
Chapter 5Reporting the Crime

Contacting the Police

The Role of Hospitals and Medical Personnel
Chapter 6The Police Investigation

The Victim Interview

The Crime Scene

The Detective’s Role

The Rights of the Victim
Chapter 7Arresting the Offender

Identifying the Offender

Lineup Procedures

Unknown Offenders

Making the Arrest

What if Police Do Not Make an Arrest?
Chapter 8Filing the Charge

Making the Decision to File

Screening the Case

Methods of Charging

The Grand Jury

Time Limits

The Charges in Your Case
Chapter 9Pretrial Procedures

The Role of the Judge

The Victim’s Rights

The Right to a Speedy Trial

Arraignment -Defendant’s Initial Appearance


Preliminary Hearing

Pre-Trial Motions
Chapter 10Plea Bargaining

Types of Plea Bargains


The Victim’s Role
Chapter 11The Criminal Trial

Defendant’s Right to a Jury

Opening Statement

Evidence and Testimony

The State’s Case

The Victim as a Witness

The Defense Case

Closing Statement
Chapter 12The Verdict

The Role of the Jury

The Bench Trial

Verdict on Less Than All Charges
Chapter 13The Sentence

Sentencing Dispositions

The Sentencing Hearing

The Victim Impact Statement

What the Sentence Really Means

Violations of Sentencing Orders
Chapter 14Appeal

Who Appeals

The Offender During an Appeal

What an Appeals Court Can Do

The Victim’s Rights
Chapter 15After the Criminal Trial

When It Is Over

Release or Escape of the Offender
Chapter 16Emerging Technology and Crime Victims

Victim Participation

Automated Victim Information and Notification

Crime Mapping

Sex Offenders and Sexual Predators

Chapter 17Recovering Damages

Criminal versus Civil Court

Other Options for Recovery of Damages
Chapter 18The What and Who of a Civil Lawsuit

The Civil Suit

The Parties to the Suit

Defendant’s Suit Against the Victim

The Burden of Proof



Theories-Third Parties

Proving the Elements of an Intentional Tort


Common Defenses


The Effect of the Criminal Case on the Civil Suit

The Effect of a Civil Suit on the Victim
Chapter 19The How and When of a Civil Lawsuit

Evaluating and Preparing the Case

The Time and Place to File

Enforcing the Judgment
Chapter20The Role of Lawyers

Lawyers and Confidentiality

Finding a Lawyer

Fee Agreements

Working with the Lawyer
Appendix AVictim’s Resources
Appendix BLegal Research
Appendix CState-by-State Laws
Appendix DSample Forms

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