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What You Can Do If You
Are a Victim of Crime

Crime victimization is a frightening and unsettling experience for the millions of Americans whose lives it touches each year. As recently as 1972, almost no services were available to help crime victims or their survivors repair the damage to their lives and property or contend with the traumatic and frustrating ordeal of
prosecuting the offender.

Today, however, due largely to the dedicated efforts of advocates,lawmakers, and crime victims, a tremendous range of services and resources is available to help victims obtain justice and heal. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), the U.S. Department of Justice agency that advocates for the fair treatment of crime victims, wants you to know that if you or someone you love is a victim of crime—you have rights, and there is help available.

Rights of Crime Victims

A majority of states have amended their constitutions to guarantee certain rights for crime victims. Typically, these include the following fundamental rights:

  • The right to notification of all court proceedings related to the offense.

  • The right to be reasonably protected from the accused offender.

  • The right to have input at sentencing (in the form of a victim impact statement).

  • The right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the offender.

  • The right to an order of restitution from the convicted offender.

  • The right to notice of these rights.

  • The right to enforce these rights.

If you are a victim of or witness to a crime, these rights apply to you. You may obtain information about these rights through your local victim/witness assistance program (usually located in the prosecutor's office), your state Attorney General's Office, or U.S. Attorneys' Offices.

You Can Get Help

Literally thousands of programs that provide services and sanctuary to crime victims exist throughout the United States. These programs are within state government agencies and private nonprofit or charitable organizations. They provide two general types of services — compensation and assistance.

Crime victim compensation programs reimburse victims of crime occurring within the state (including victims of federal crimes) for crime-related expenses. Crimes covered include violent crimes such as homicide, rape, drunk driving, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse and neglect. Expenses covered are medical costs, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages or loss of support. Crime victim assistance programs provide a range of services,including crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter, criminal justice advocacy, and emergency transportation.

National Victim Organizations Stand Ready To Assist You

If you are a crime victim and are seeking information or referrals on victims' rights, services, and criminal justice resources, the following organizations may help you:


Childhelp USA/Forrester National Child Abuse Hotline
1–800–422–4453
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
1–800–438–6233
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
1–800–843–5678
National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)
1–800–394–2255
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1–800–799–7233
National Fraud Information Hotline
1–800–876–7060
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
1–800–879–6682
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
1–800–537–2238
National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)
1–888–693–2874
Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center (OVCRC)
1–800–851–3420
(TTY 1–877–712–9279)
Parents of Murdered Children (POMC)
1–888–818–7662
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
1–800–656–4673

 

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