NEED TO KNOW: Domestic violence victims have rights

By Nicole Perez - Executive Producer

SAN ANTONIO - When victims of violence pursue charges, the victims have rights to protect them from the abusers. Here are the rights explained by the San Antonio Police Department's victim's advocates.

As the victim of a violent crime, you have the right to:

  • Have protection from harm or threats when cooperating with prosecution efforts.
  • Have the magistrate take your safety and the safety of your family into consideration when setting bail.
  • Request advance notification and to be informed of relevant court proceedings, including cancelation and rescheduling.
  • Request (a) information from a peace officer about the defendant’s right to bail and the procedures involved in a criminal investigation, and (b) general information – including information about plea bargaining, restitution, appeals and the parole process from the prosecutor’s office.
  • Provide pertinent information about the impact of the crime to the probation department conducting the pre-sentence investigation.
  • Receive information regarding Crime Victim’s Compensation.
  • Be informed of (a) parole procedures, (b) on request, parole hearings, and (c) defendant’s release from prison.
  • Submit written information to Board of Pardons and Parole, or meet with members of the Board for consideration prior to the perpetrator’s parole.
  • Be present at all public court proceedings, if the presiding judge is in agreement.
  • Be provided a separate waiting area, secure from other witnesses, when testifying in any proceeding concerning the offender.
  • Prompt return of property when it is no longer needed as evidence.
  • Have a prosecuting attorney notify your employer that your testimony at the time of trial may require your absence from work.
  • Testing and counseling regarding AIDS and HIV infection for sexual assault victims, upon request.
  • Complete a Victim’s Impact Statement, and have that statement considered by the judge prior to sentencing and by officials prior to the offender’s release.

These rights apply to victims of juvenile crime, including victims who suffer property loss.

If you have been the victim of a crime and have questions, call:

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

  • Cadena-Reeves Justice Center Victim’s Assistance, 300 Dolorosa, 5th Floor, 210-335-2105
  • Attorney General of Texas Crime Victim’s Compensation, 1-800-983-9933

Code of Criminal Procedure, Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Act, Chapter 56, Subchapter B

Purpose: to compensate residents of the United States who suffer personal injury or death as the result of a violent crime, including DWI, failure to stop and render aid and certain other vehicular crimes.

Texas Crime Victim’s Compensation can provide financial assistance with expenses related to a crime, including:

  • Reasonable medical, mental health counseling, prescription and rehabilitative services.
  • Loss of wages and loss of support.
  • Travel associated with seeking medical treatment or participating criminal justice proceedings.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Reasonable costs associated with crime scene cleanup.
  • Reasonable replacement costs for clothing or bedding taken as evidence or made unusable as a result of a criminal investigation.
  • Child or dependent care.
  • Relocation for victims of family violence.

Amount of compensation:

  • Total recovery not to exceed $50,000 unless injury is catastrophic.
  • Individuals suffering total and permanent disability as a result of victimization may qualify for an additional $50,000 which may be used for lost wages, prosthetics, rehabilitation and making home wheelchair accessible.

Persons eligible include:

  • Victims who suffer bodily injury, death or emotional harm as a result of a violent crime.
  • U.S. residents who are victimized in Texas and Texas residents who are victimized in a state without comparable compensation.
  • Family members of victims and people who voluntarily pay or are legally responsible for expenses related to crime.
  • Claimant cannot share responsibility for the crime, must report the crime and must cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

How to apply:

Applications must be filed within three years of the crime. Children can apply until they are 21.

Reimbursement of property loss is not an eligible expense. CVC is the payer of last resort.

HELPFUL NUMBERS

Emergencies – Police, Fire, EMS -- 911

Adult Protective Services -- 1-800-252-5400

Child Protective Services -- 1-800-252-5400

Battered Women’s Shelter -- 210-733-8810

National Domestic Violence Hotline -- 1-800-799-7233

Rape Crisis Center -- 210-521-7273

Parents of Murdered Children -- 210-344-7451

SAPD will pay the cost of forensic exams for victims of sexual assault when the crime is reported to the department. Texas CCP, art. 56.06

Sexual assault examinations:

Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital -- 210-575-8168

Children-Santa Rosa -- 210-704-2190

For more information/assistance, call:

Victim's Advocacy -- 210-207-2141

Family Justice Center -- 210-631-0100

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