Crime Victims' Rights Legal Services
The criminal justice system is complex and can be very intimidating to navigate alone. NVRDC’s crime victims’ rights legal program is able to assist victims of all crime crime types by providing free legal support. This includes, but is not limited to, information and representation in reporting the crime, assistance with navigating the criminal investigation process, and enforcing crime victims’ rights throughout prosecutorial proceedings. Below are the three types of legal services that may be provided:
Brief Advice: A member of our legal staff will give an overview of the criminal justice system. This includes: steps for filing a police report, information about crime victims’ rights, timeline for a criminal investigation and prosecution. A victim can also ask about the pros and cons with proceeding with a criminal action, and ask about any additional concerns.
Conversion Reports (Filing a Police Report) for Survivors of Sexual Assault: A member of our case management and/or our legal team can accompany a person who has been sexually assaulted to the Metropolitan Police Department to file a police report (called a “conversion report”). As part of this process, a survivor will receive information about what to expect when reporting to police and the steps that will occur after the report is made.
Full-Representation: Legal representation by an NVRDC attorney. Victims of crime have rights under several laws and rules of court. To enforce those rights, victims may choose to have an attorney represent them. Representation can begin once there is an active criminal investigation or prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office or the DC Office of the Attorney General.
Am I Eligible to Receive Criminal Legal Services?
1. Are you the victim of a crime?
2. Are you over 18 years of age?
3. Is one of the following things true:
a. Are you a DC resident or do you attend school in DC?
b. Did the crime occur in DC?
If so, you may be eligible for criminal legal assistance!
As a crime victim in DC you are entitled to specific legal rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act
CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS ACT (“CVRA”) OF 2004, 18 U.S.C. § 3771
What are Crime Victims’ Rights?
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public proceeding involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding involving release, plea, or sentencing.
(5) The right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
(9) The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea agreement or deferred prosecution agreement.
(10) The right to be informed of the rights under this section and the services described in section 503(c) of the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 10607(c)) and provided contact information for the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman of the Department of Justice.
DC’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights (§ 23-1901) also provides “that officers or employees of the District of Columbia engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of the crime or judicial process shall make their best efforts to see that victims of crime are accorded their rights.” NVRDC staff attorneys are available to assist in communicating with law enforcement and prosecutors regarding your case.
NVRDC's legal team was awarded the National Crime Victims Law Institute's 2015 Legal Advocacy Award. This award recognizes crime victims’ rights attorneys who have dedicated and committed their time to representing victims of crime in the criminal justice system.
NVRDC's legal program started in 2012 with just one full time and one half time attorney and has expanded to a total of seven attorneys in only three years. In that time, NVRDC has worked tirelessly to form a professional and symbiotic relationship with the DC Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, as well as other partner organizations in the District of Columbia that provide supportive or legal services to survivors of crime. NVRDC has served over 500 legal clients in cases ranging from identity theft and elder abuse to assault, sexual violence, and homicide. NVRDC’s legal team has aggressively pursued survivor’s rights under the Crime Victims’ Right Act in DC, including seeking or enforcing restitution and zealously litigating its clients’ right to privacy regarding medical, educational, or business records. With over 8 universities in DC and the surrounding area, NVRDC expanded its litigation and training programs to represent survivors of sexual violence on college campus disciplinary hearings under Title IX, as well as in pursuing Title IX complaints against such institutions with the Department of Education.