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24 Hour Victim Hotline
1.888.288.9221

you have rights


Article 1, Section 35 of the Washington State Constitution and RCW 7.69 provide crime victims with statutory rights. We will make every effort to ensure you are afforded these rights.

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Advocates Working Together Serving Victims of Crime

Frequently Asked Questions

a) How do I request assistance from an Advocate?

  • Advocates are a phone call away.  The Crime Victim Advocacy Network is a Victim-Centered and Victim-Driven program.  We are here to listen to you, help prioritize your needs, answer your questions, and offer whatever assistance we can to help get you through this difficult time.  Many victims have questions about what they are experiencing, what to expect if a court case is pending and what their role is, community resources or crime victim compensation benefits they may qualify for, questions about restitution, or about the services we offer.  Some victims call with general questions and others for more extensive assistance.  It is important to us that you get the correct answers you need, when you need them.  All of our services are free and confidential, and interpreter services are offered free of charge when needed.
  • To find an Advocate in the county you reside in, click on the "Contact Us" link and give us a call.  You can reach an Advocate 24-hours a day at our victim help-line by calling 1-888-288-9221.

b) What are Protective Orders?

  • A protection order is an order that prohibits the respondent from contacting you. There are several kinds of protection orders, including an Order for Protection (for domestic violence cases,) No Contact Order, Restraining Order, and Anti-Harassment Order. You can apply for a protection order at the clerk's office for District or Superior Court. There may or may not be a charge to obtain a protection order. **See section on Protection Orders for more information.

c) What if I don’t want to file charges or want them dropped?

  • As the victim of a crime, your participation and cooperation are a valued part of the prosecution process. However, the State of Washington has a responsibility to hold offenders accountable for their actions when they break the law. This responsibility ensures that the law is enforced consistently and that the community need for justice is met. Therefore, individual citizens do not have the ability to drop charges in a criminal matter in this state.

d) When is the offender being released?

  • The defendant may be released upon posting of a bail bond or cash if bail is set. The defendant may also be released on their own personal recognizance by a judge. If the defendant is sentenced, they may be afforded “good time,” depending on the correctional facility where they are incarcerated at. Defendants may be eligible for work release or other options. It is best to check directly with the facility the defendant is incarcerated at to determine their custody status.  You can register free and confidentially for notification of any change in custody status or release of the defendant at www.vinelink.com

e) What is the Victim Impact Statement?

  • A Victim Impact Statement (VIS) is your chance to tell the judge how the crime has affected you, any lifestyle changes you have made as a result of the crime, financial burden or hardships the crime has caused, and any sentencing recommendations you have for the defendant. You may request a VIS from the Victim Advocate if you do not receive one.

f) What is my involvement in the Criminal Justice process?

  • Courtrooms are open to the public, and as such, you are welcome to attend any of the defendant's hearings.  Be prepared for hearings to be continued or hearings that last several hours before the defendant's case is called.
  • As a victim, you may be called to testify as a witness should the case proceed to trial. If your testimony is required, you will receive a subpoena. 
  • You may request restitution for any medical expenses or property damage/loss as a result of the crime. You may receive paperwork in the mail from the Prosecutor’s Office entitled “Victim Restitution Estimate” if your case is eligible for restitution. The defendant is responsible for payment of restitution if ordered by the court. Victims may attend the defendant’s court hearings. Please advise the victim advocate on the case if you wish to attend any court hearings or give a VIS at sentencing.
  • In preparation for trial, the Defense attorney or a Private Investigator hired by the defense attorney may request an interview with victims or witnesses in the case. The Deputy Prosecutor may also wish to interview you.  You have a right to have a Victim Advocate accompany you to any interview and be present with you at the time of the interview. The Advocate’s role is to provide emotional support to the victim during the interview.

g) If I send a restitution request to the Prosecutor's Office, what should I include?

  • Restitution requests should be as detailed as possible and include written estimates of property loss, damage, copies of medical bills, and insurance statements, and be presented in a detailed, easy to read format for the Prosecutor to review. Your request should indicate clearly what amount of restitution is owed to you and if applicable, include documents/statements from your insurance company. Feel free to ask the victim advocate if you have any questions regarding the preparation of your restitution request.
  • Victims should submit restitution requests as soon as possible to be ordered at the sentencing of the defendant. The Prosecutor’s Office has limited time under the law to have restitution ordered back to you, so it is important you submit your request as soon as possible.
  • If restitution is ordered in your case, the defendant would be required to pay the Court Clerk’s office, who would then distribute the restitution payment to you via check.

h) How do I get my property back?

  • In many cases, property belonging to the victim is taken as evidence of the crime by the investigating law enforcement agency. Property is held by the investigating law enforcement agency throughout the duration of the case. Property may need to be held for its evidentiary value or for additional testing should the case proceed to trial. If you are the victim and the evidence being held presents a significant hardship, you may inquire of the victim advocate for assistance in having your property returned sooner.  Property is usually released to the owner upon the completion of the case.

i) Can I get restitution for things such as pain, suffering, and mental anguish?

  • Not through the criminal justice system. Restitution is ordered for out of pocket expenses directly related to the crime. If you would like to seek compensation for pain and suffering, you may wish to file a civil suit or a claim in small claims court against the offender (small claims are filed through the county District Court).  Information on the civil justice process for victims can be found by visiting the National Crime Victim Bar Association's website at: www.victimbar.org 

j) Can I contact the defendant?

  • Victims and witnesses are frequently asked not to contact defendants until a case is over. In some cases, contact with the defendant may be strictly prohibited. If you and the defendant were living together, the court will frequently order the defendant to find another place to stay if released from jail.  Most defendants are ordered not to contact the victim of the crime while the case is pending and as part of a sentencing order.  In general, it is not advisable to contact the defendant, especially while court proceedings are pending.

k) Why did the defendant enter a not-guilty plea with all the evidence against them?

  • There are many reasons for this. First of all, no matter what evidence exists in the case, persons accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Most defendants are represented by an attorney, who in many cases has not reviewed the entire case file prior to the first court hearing. Courts also have specific calendars for defendant's to enter guilty pleas and be sentenced, and would prefer these hearings take place on that calendar. Other times, defendants will want time to discuss their options with their attorney before making a decision at the first court hearing, and may choose to go to trial. For all of these reasons, it is very common for defendants to enter not-guilty pleas at their first court hearing.

l) Do I have to go to court?

  • The only time you would have to come to court is if you receive a subpoena to testify. Otherwise, it is not necessary for you to attend court unless you would like to. Most court hearings are public hearings and you are welcome to attend if you wish. Our Victim Advocates will be able to provide you with information and support on attending court.

m) I haven't reported the incident to the police. Can you still help me?

  • Yes. It is not required that you report the crime to receive services from our Advocates.

n) Do you need to know all the details of the incident?

  • No. Our Advocates are trained to listen to how you have been affected by the crime, both emotionally and practically. You are welcome to share whatever details of the incident you are comfortable with.

o) Am I entitled to Crime Victims Compensation?

  • If you have been a victim of a violent crime (eg: assault, robbery, vehicular assault or homicide, DUI Injuries) or a survivor of homicide, you may be eligible for Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries CVC Program. CVC Staff review every application for compensation eligibility and will make a determination based on State law and program requirements whether you are eligible. The CVC program is the "payer of last resort," and victims of property crimes are ineligible for CVC assistance. Our Advocates can offer assistance with the application process. You can learn more about the program and download an application at the CVC website below or by calling the CVC program toll free at 1-800-762-3716 or 360-902-5355.
    http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/CrimeVictims/default.asp

p) Does my immigration status matter?



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