Press-Republican

Columns

September 24, 2012

The rights of crime victims

No one wants to be a crime victim. 

Whether the offense is committed by a relative, friend or stranger, being assaulted, abused or stolen from shakes the victim’s world.

 In many ways, it is so much worse if it is your spouse or partner who is hurting you or your child or who is stealing from you.

You want it to stop. You want the person to get help, but meet with resistance. You worry about your safety.

Holding the person accountable and preventing him or her from victimizing you or anyone else again is crucial. Although you may be reluctant to do so, calling the police may be the best thing to do.

TREATMENT

A judge can order a defendant to get needed mental-health or substance-abuse treatment.

You may avoid the police because you do not want to see the person locked up, but sometimes jail can be a wakeup call and teach an important lesson. A short period in jail, followed by treatment and probation, could be the keys to change.

PROTECTION

When you file a charge with the police or in Family Court, you can request an order of protection from the judge, asking either that the defendant not contact you at all or allow contact that is not abusive. The only way to get an order of protection is to bring a charge. Violating an order is a new crime.

New York has a law called Fair Treatment Standards for Crime Victims. It requires notification of many subjects, including available emergency care and counseling, compensation, court proceedings and whether the defendant is released from jail.

GUIDING DECISIONS

As the victim, you definitely have rights. One is the prompt return of stolen property that has been recovered, unless there is a compelling reason to keep it for trial.

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