Victim's Bill of Rights
Victims of many types of crimes have rights and responsibilities under a Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 17-17-1) called the Victims’ Bill of Rights. The following explains some of your rights.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE NOTIFIED OF:
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
IF YOU NEED PROTECTION
If you are threatened or intimidated by the offender, please immediately contact the police to make a report. For immediate assistance, dial 911.
In order for you to be notified of various proceedings, you must provide law enforcement with your address, home and work phone numbers (not pagers or cellular phones).
If your phone number changes from the number you first gave police, you must notify the investigating law enforcement agency at their listed number, Victim Assistance, the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office (229)244-7170, and/or the Lowndes County State Court Solicitor’s Office (229)671-2510. If there is an arrest, you can be informed of criminal proceedings.
If the defendant (accused) is convicted and sent to prison and you want to be notified of parole or want to express your opinions prior to a parole decision, you must write the Board of Pardons and Parole in Atlanta. Also, if the defendant is sentenced to prison and you want to know of any changed in his/her status while in prison (such as furlough, work release, escape), send a letter to the Department of Corrections in Atlanta. The Victim Assistance Program can assist you with any of this communication.
If you are the victim of a violent (not property) crime, you may be eligible for victim compensation. You must file a completed application within one year after the date of the crime. Victims of crimes that occurred before July 1, 1997 have only 180 days from the date of the crime to submit an application. There does not have to be an arrest in order to apply.
Compensation can help with out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance, Medicaid, worker’s compensation, etc. Eligible expenses include medical, counseling, funeral and lost wages. The Victim Assistance Program has compensation applications and can help you apply. Call 1-800-241-7827.
DEFENDANT’S RELEASE PRIOR TO TRIAL
Many defendants (accused) are released on bond from jail before disposition of their case. Bond is guaranteed by the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions, except in certain cases.
Bond is money or property put up to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. The Judge considers several issues in determining the bond amount of the accused: the possibility of fleeing, the threat of danger to the community, the risk of committing another crime and the possibility of threatening witnesses.
Many defendants will be immediately released because the amount of bond is pre-set. The defendant gets a bonding company or an individual to provide a cash or property bond. This may be done within hours of the defendant being arrested.
If the defendant has not made bond within 72 hours, most will appear before a Judge. At that time, a bond may be set and the defendant may be released. Usually, victims do not attend these first appearance hearings and will not be notified of them since they are routine in most cases. An exception occurs in stalking cases where the law requires that victims be notified before bond is set. It is the policy of most Judges to restrain defendants in domestic violence cases from having contact with alleged victims.
There are certain serious crimes in which a bond can only be set by a Superior Court Judge. These hearings are usually at a later time after notice to the District Attorney’s Office. The Victim Assistance Program will attempt to notify you prior to these bond proceedings.
If the accused is a juvenile (under 17), the proceedings are different. Call the Lowndes County Juvenile Court (229) 333-5252
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
The Victim Assistance Program in the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office can inform you of your rights, assist you with any questions you may have or refer you to the appropriate agency for help. The hours are 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM, Monday-Friday. The services are free.
|Victim Assistance Program 1-800-241-7827|
|Rape Crisis (229) -244-1765|
|The Haven Shelter (a shelter for abused and battered women and their children) (229) 244-1765|
|Legal Services (civil only) (912) 241-0737|
|Lowndes County Magistrate Court (229) 333-5112|
|Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office (912) 333-5133|
|Hahira Police Department (912) 794-2440|
|Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office (229) 244-7170|
|Lowndes County State Court Solicitor’s Office (912) 671-2510|
|Lowndes County Department of Family & Children Services (229)333-5200|
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
ARREST: A warrant is a document, issued by the Judge, giving police the authority to arrest the accused. Victims may be required to obtain a copy of the police report and go to the County Courthouse for a warrant. If bond can be set and accused is able to pay, he/she will be released from jail.
PRELIMINARY HEARING: (Felony cases only) After an arrest, a preliminary hearing may be held. Witnesses and/or police officers are usually subpoenaed to appear at this hearing. At that time, the Magistrate Court Judge listens to the testimony to determine whether there is probable cause for the case to go to a higher court, i.e. State or Superior Court.
GRAND JURY: (Felony cases only) The 23 citizens on the Grand Jury, hear testimony and review evidence relating to the crime. They determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring an indictment. If an indictment is returned (True Bill) the case goes to the Superior Court for trial. If the Grand Jury decides not to return an indictment the case is no billed. This hearing is done in private. Neither the defendant not his/her attorney is present.
ARRAIGNMENT: Once a defendant has been formally charged (by indictment or accusation) with the crime, the defendant answers to the charges in Superior Court. This hearing is referred to as an arraignment, at which time the defendant may enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty" in open court. You may attend, although it is not necessary for you to be present.
PLEA: A defendant may plead guilty to the charge anytime after arrest. If he/she chooses to plead guilty, a plea hearing is held. The Judge may sentence him/her then or at a later date.
JURY TRIAL: A Jury Trial of twelve (12) citizens listens to testimony and determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. All 12 must agree beyond a reasonable doubt for there to be a conviction. Witnesses are subpoenaed to jury trials. The Judge may sentence immediately after conviction or may order a PSI (pre-sentencing investigation).
A MESSAGE FROM CHIEF TERRY DAVIS
Citizens in our community often suffer the devastating effects of violent crime. In spite of our continuing effort to eliminate violent crime in our community, this effort will never be completely successful. As a result, innocent people will continue to be preyed upon by those who have no respect for law, life or property. The Crime Victim Compensation Program is designed to allow victims and their families to receive financial aid for expenses which result from violent crimes.
Physical injury, emotional and mental trauma and financial burdens maybe suffered by the victims of violent crimes. The added worry over medical bills and loss work time add insult to injury. It is true that no amount of compensation can erase the memories of a violent crime; however, I hope that this program will in some way ease the burdens of the innocent victims of violent crime.
Hopefully, this information can help you or someone you know.
Chief of Police
CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION PROGRAM
WHAT IS THE CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION PROGRAM?
The State of Georgia has a program to assist you with crime related expenses if you are a victim of a violent crime. It can help compensate victims for medical costs, counseling, lost wages, funeral expenses and various other costs.
However, we are payers of last resort.
Please review the details in this brochure to see if you should apply for compensation.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR VICTIM COMPENSATION?
Victims who have been physically injured in a violent crime. Including but not limited to victims of:
|Person incurring eligible expenses due to crime|
|Domestic/Family Violence Victim|
|DUI Crash Victim|
WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?
|Victims of property crimes|
|Victims who consent, provoke or incite the crime against them|
|Victims who were participating in a criminal act|
|Victims who do not report the crime to law enforcement officials within 72 hours.|
WHAT COMPENSATION IS AVAILABLE?
You are eligible for the following categories of compensation only if they are not covered by another source:
TOTAL AWARD AMOUNT ALLOWABLE IS $10,000
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM FOR EACH CATEGORY?
1. Medical Expense $5,000
2. Counseling Expense $2,500
3. Funeral Expense $3,000
4. Economic Loss $5,000
ARE THERE LIMITATIONS ON COMPENSATION?
|Yes. Compensation cannot be paid for stolen, damaged, or lost property.|
|Compensation is not paid for costs payable by other sources such as health insurance, car insurance, sick leave pay, disability insurance, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation or funds from other government agencies.|
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE ELIGIBLE?
|You must report the crime to law enforcement, within 72 hours, unless there is valid reason for reporting the crime at a later date.|
|You must file a complete application packet with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council within 1 year of the date of the crime (with some exceptions).|
|You must cooperate with law enforcement officials in their investigation and prosecution.|
HOW DO I APPLY?
You must file an application for assistance with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
An application will be sent to you when you call the Victims Assistance Program at (229) 244-7170 or 1 (800) 241-7827.
You do not need an attorney to file an application.