Often when we think of legal rights, it’s those of a defendant accused of a crime that comes to mind. However, there is another segment of our society whose rights are too often left unrepresented: those who have been victimized by crime.
Every victim in California has clearly defined rights. However, many are unaware that they have these rights. Victims of crime often benefit from the assistance of a victims’ rights attorney. California law entitles a victim to everything from financial compensation to the right to be reasonably protected from the accused. Victims and their families may receive notification about an inmate’s parole hearings and provide information about how they have been harmed. Further, they are entitled to receive restitution and financial compensation.
Today, a victim is defined under the California Constitution as “a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. The term ‘victim’ also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated.”
What is the most significant piece of legislation that directly affects crime victims’ rights?
California’s victim rights are spelled out in the state’s Victims’ Bill of Rights. California significantly expanded the rights of victims in 2008 with Marsy’s Law, named after a young woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Marsy’s law recognized that those accused of a crime had more than 20 individual rights – but victims, and at times their surviving family members, had almost none. (You can read more about the history of the law here.)
For a complete list of victims’ rights, click here
While California has some of the most stringent domestic violence laws in the United States, such crimes continue to occur at an alarming rate. This is why it is so important to contact an experienced domestic violence attorney (Los Angeles / Central Valley are included in Proper Defense’s service areas).
As covered in our domestic violence page, the category of domestic violence covers a vast array of conduct involving violence or threat of violence involving two people that have one of the following relationships: married or domestic partners, dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together.
Nothing may be more destructive than abuse or violence within one’s residence, especially at the hands of a partner. At Proper Defense, we stand ready to provide you with a host of support, ranging from assistance with preparing for testifying in court to obtaining an emergency protective order and a more permanent domestic violence restraining order.
Oftentimes victims of domestic violence seek an attorney to guide them through the criminal process. There are many times where the victim has a voice in court and with guided support, Proper Defense ensures that your voice is heard. On the flip side, as a victim, you may not want to speak in court and as a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to choose not to speak and not to testify which is very unique to the criminal process. In all other types of cases, a victim can be compelled to testify through the subpoena process and be held in contempt of court for not speaking when they are on the stand. A victim of domestic violence may choose not to testify and avoid being held in contempt of court. With an advocate by your side, you can choose what is right for you and be confident that your choice will not be violated by the system.
California has its own Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS). As stated on its site, OVRS “maintains a comprehensive victim services program and establishes justice practices to ensure crime victims and survivors are afforded the utmost respect in exercising their legal rights.” While the resources available are many, obtaining them while in a heightened emotional state can be overwhelming. That is where Proper Defense comes in with legal expertise to guide and support you through the entire process of reclaiming your life.
So how can a victim get a lawyer? Simple. At Proper Defense, we are committed to protecting and promoting victims’ rights as a dedicated victim advocate attorney. We do just that, ensuring those who have been harmed by crime have access to adequate resources, including legal representation when needed. Below is a list of services we provide:
Being victimized has already affected you, emotionally and physically. Going through the criminal process should not add to that pain. With an experienced victim’s advocate by your side, rest assured you will not feel revictimized by the system. Instead, you will feel protected, understood, and in the know about what is happening and what to expect every step of the way.