If you, a family member or a friend should ever become a victim of a crime, use these methods to help you get your rights in court.
- Immediately report the crime. The “colder” the case, the harder it is to investigate and prosecute. There is also a chance that monetary compensation may be lost if the crime is not reported in the timely manner.
- Get a contact. Ask the officer in charge at the scene of the crime for a copy of the offense report, include also the name and contact number of the police officer or prosecutor who will handle your case. Follow-up is easier if you have a contact.
- Ask about your rights under the laws of your state, Federal Law, or country. Request this information in writing from your contact and ask what you must do to take advantage of these rights. Ask about anything of immediate concern, such as whether a rape suspect can be required to undergo HIV testing.
- Ask for assistance. Ask if the prosecutor’s office has a victim advocate program for legal assistance. Ask where to get help for the emotional damage caused by the crime. There are support groups for rape victims, families or murder victims, battered spouses, etc.
- Take charge. Don’t assume that everything will happen automatically. Call the prosecutor’s office, the appeals court, or the parole board. Follow up with written requests.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. Ask for all the information you need –anything from the where you may park your car to the sentencing procedures. Officials are often more helpful when they understand your needs.