Crime Victim Representation Basics
As a victim of crime, you can often feel alone within the criminal justice system. The person who victimized you has a lawyer and there are numerous situations where his rights as a defendant will be heard in court. The State has a lawyer, called a Deputy District Attorney or Prosecutor, to represent their interests. The prosecutor assigned to your case may not be keeping you informed of developments in the case. You may or may not hear from a “victim’s advocate” who works for the State. Of all the people involved in the case, you might be the only one without representation. As your case is moving along through the system you may wonder what sentence the defendant may get and whether you will be financially compensated. The short answer is that without proper representation you are at the mercy of the system. Don’t be the only person in the case without representation.
What A Crime Victim’s Attorney Can Do
1. Maximize any financial compensation you are entitled to. There are two different types of court cases: criminal and civil. When you are the victim of a crime both cases are potentially involved. First, the criminal court process begins. This is when the defendant is arrested and may or may not be held in jail awaiting a criminal trial. A Deputy District Attorney (Prosecutor) is assigned to the case. The defendant will likely have hired an attorney or have one appointed for him/her. Without representation your involvement will be limited to testifying at a preliminary hearing called “grand jury” and possibly being kept up to date by the prosecutor. If there is a trial you’d need to testify at that. They might send you a form to list your out-of-pocket expenses so that they can try to get those covered. But their job is not to get money for you. For that you’ll need your own attorney. This is where the civil system comes into play. An experienced crime victim’s lawyer can get to work early, while the criminal case is still open. They can make sure that the defendant has pressure put on them to fully compensate you while the criminal case still hangs over their head.Think of it like this: Is there ever going to be another time when we can be more effective in pressuring the defendant to do the right thing, and fully compensate you, than while a judge is still determining the appropriate criminal sentence? It is important to contact an attorney who has familiarity with the criminal and civil systems and how they can operate together. Before starting my personal injury practice I was a Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney. I handled thousands of criminal cases. I know how the criminal system works. But, in some cases using the criminal system’s pressure to achieve a result will not be enough. In those case we would need to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties and use the civil justice system to best achieve your goals. And I know how the civil system works and how to best maximize my client’s money recovery.
2. Make sure you understand the criminal process. You will likely have a lot of questions about how the criminal process works. What is grand jury, are your entitled to recover money for your losses, will there be a trial, what will happen at a trial, and what kind of sentence will the defendant get are common questions. You may not get much help from the District Attorney’s Office. This isn’t generally because they don’t care; they do. But they have a lot of cases and not a lot of time. A good portland crime victim lawyer will make sure you are fully aware of what is going to happen and what your rights are.
3. Make sure that your voice is heard in all matters affecting scheduling and sentencing. The Oregon Constitution gives you the right to be involved in significant matters related to the case. You’ll want to be hear about the plea negotiations so that justice is served. You’ll want to be heard about scheduling and compensation too. I’ll work with the prosecutor to make sure your wishes are in the front of their mind. And I’ll work to make sure all who are responsible are held accountable. This includes the offender and any organization that allowed or helped the action to happen. This could include bars that over serve alcohol leading to devastating car crashes, or organizations such as DHS, churches, nursing homes or day care facilities where abuse happens.
What Makes Us Different
- Guaranteed No Fee Unless We Win – If we don’t win your case we don’t take a fee.
- Results – Our results have far exceeded the offers made to clients before hiring us. Our verdicts have been more than five times the amount of offers made. See our Results.
- Fair Fee Structure and Costs Policy – Unlike many lawyers we advance the case costs and court filing fees. This can be thousands of dollars. And we take our fee off the net and not the gross. This saves you money. See an example.
- Satisfied Clients – Read our testimonials.
- Recognized Expertise – Chad Stavley has been rated by SuperLawyers as one of the top lawyers in the state for personal injury cases. He has been picked by Martindale-Hubbell to receive their AV – Preeminent rating for ability and ethics.
- Ethics – Chad Stavley has an AV Preeminent ethics rating by Martindale-Hubbell.
- Responsive – One of the biggest complaints I hear about lawyers is they did not return the client’s calls or emails. Some even refuse to sit down and meet with clients. We take pride in being ready to answer your questions when you need them answered. If you want to meet to talk about your case, we will make it happen.