RESOURCES FOR CRIME VICTIMS

Victims of violent crimes have experienced something that most people can only imagine. Everyone deals with the experience differently. Experts from the National Center for Victims of Crime recommend seeking support as soon as possible and maintaining that support throughout the process of prosecuting and sentencing the perpetrator. There are many resources available in Georgia, and the attorneys at Butler Tobin are here to make sure you find the right ones for you and your family.

GEORGIA CRIME VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS

In Georgia, crime victims are granted specific rights under the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights (O.C.G.A.  § 17-115-1 et seq.).  This act applies to victims of homicide, assault and battery, elder abuse, robbery, sexual offenses, and victims in some motor vehicle collisions.

The Georgia Crimes Victims Bill of Rights grants crime victims the right to be notified of scheduled court proceedings; the right to be notified when the perpetrator of the crime is arrested; the right to speak at any hearings related to the sentencing, plea bargaining, or release of the perpetrator; and the right to restitution as allowed by law.  Under this law, crime victims also have the right to file written objections in parole proceedings and the right to be treated fairly by all of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

GEORGIA CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION PROGRAM

The court system can’t undo the crime, but it can help victims and their families with the financial consequences of a violent attack.  In certain circumstances, victims and their families can pursue a civil lawsuit for money damages.  That’s the kind of case that Butler Tobin handles.

The State of Georgia also has a program that can provide limited assistance to victims and their families.  For example, if a victim is unable to work due to serious injuries sustained in a violent attack, the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program provides limited financial assistance to help make up for lost wages.  The program also provides financial help for funeral expenses, medical bills, and counseling services.

To receive assistance from the program, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are an innocent victim who suffered personal injury as the result of a crime.

  • You suffered serious personal injury or emotional trauma as a result of trying to aid another person.

  • You are the parent or legal guardian of a minor victim.

  • You suffered serious emotional or mental trauma as the result of witnessing a crime.

  • You suffered serious emotional or mental trauma after being threatened with a crime.

  • You are the surviving parent, sibling, parent, or child of a homicide victim.

  • You lost wages or support as the result of being the parent or legal guardian of a minor victim.

  • You are not the victim of a crime, but you have been paying expenses related to the crime.

  • You were legally dependent on financial support from a deceased crime victim.

  • You are a victim of domestic violence who is dependent on the support you receive from the perpetrator.

There are some deadlines you need to be aware of if you plan to request assistance from the program.  First, you must report the crime to the appropriate authorities within 72 hours of the incident.  If the crime occurred on or after July 1, 2014, you must file a claim within a maximum of three years from the date of the crime or the death of the crime victim.  Minor victims have until three years after they turn 18 to file this claim.

The Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program does limit the amount of financial assistance provided to crime victims.  There is a cap of $15,000 for medical and dental expenses, $10,000 for economic support, $3,000 for counseling expenses, $6,000 for funeral expenses (provided the crime occurred on or after May 6, 2015), and $1,500 for cleaning and sanitation of a crime scene.

CRIME VICTIMS ADVOCACY COUNCIL

The Crime Victims Advocacy Council (CVAC) offers counseling services and educational programs for crime victims.  For example, CVAC’s crisis intervention program provides assistance to victims at hospitals and in court rooms.  There are also support groups available for crime victims to share their stories and get the help they need in the aftermath of a crime.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Victim Services Programs: The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has several programs for crime victims, such as the advocate service program and the DUI memorial fund.

Kate’s Club: Kate’s Club offers support for children and teens who are grieving the death of a sibling or parent.

Office for Victims of Crime: The U.S.  Department of Justice offers a list of resources for crime victims in all 50 states.

Atlanta Victim Assistance: (404) 588-4740

Governor’s Victim Assistance Helpline: (800) 338-6745

If you have any questions about these resources or want to know more about your legal rights are, we welcome you to call us for a private and confidential consultation.  We will protect your privacy and your call is free.

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