When someone is victimized by a wrongdoer, the State will often seek to punish the defendant by issuing criminal charges against him or her. The victim of the crime is not a party to the case, but does have certain rights. The goal is make sure the defendant does not recidivate. Pursuing a civil claim for a crime victim is seeking justice for the victim as an individual and attempting to make the victim whole again. A civil lawsuit can hold all of those responsible for contributing to the crime responsible, including businesses or other entities such as schools, clubs or government bodies. The civil justice system is designed to make sure the victim is compensated for the trauma they experienced at the hands of the wrongdoer. In addition to the questions below, please see the general Crime Victim Representation page. If you or a loved one have been a victim of a crime, please contact The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. immediately at 503-546-0461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are my rights as a crime victim?
Oregon has implemented the Crime Victims’ Compensation program since 1978. The program offers financial services to victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes or to the survivors of homicide victims. The money is not disbursed from state general funds, but from a federal Victims of Crime Act grant, assessments and restitution from criminal cases, subrogation of crime-related money that victims receive from other sources and punitive damage awards from civil cases.
Under the Federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, crime victims have the following rights:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
- The right to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of any public court proceeding or any parole proceeding involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing or any parole proceeding.
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the government in the case.
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
What are my constitutional rights in Oregon?
In addition to a crime victim’s federal rights, crime victims have additional rights in Oregon. I will represent a crime victim pro bono solely to preserve his or her constitutional rights.
A victim’s rights in Oregon, as set forth in Section 42 of the Oregon Constitution, include the following:
In criminal prosecutions and juvenile court delinquency
- The right to be present at and, upon specific request, to be informed in advance of any critical stage of the proceedings held in open court when the defendant will be present, and to be heard at the pretrial release hearing and the sentencing or juvenile court delinquency disposition.
- The right, upon request, to obtain information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, criminal history and future release from physical custody of the criminal defendant or convicted criminal and equivalent information regarding the alleged youth offender or youth offender.
- The right to refuse an interview, deposition or other discovery request by the criminal defendant or other person acting on behalf of the criminal defendant provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall restrict any other constitutional right of the defendant to discovery against the state.
- The right to receive prompt restitution from the convicted criminal who caused the victim’s loss or injury.
- The right to have a copy of a transcript of any court proceeding in open court, if one is otherwise prepared.
- The right to be consulted, upon request, regarding plea negotiations involving any violent felony.
- The right to be informed of these rights as soon as practicable.
For public protection from an accused person during criminal proceedings; denial of pretrial release
- The right to be reasonably protected from the criminal defendant or the convicted criminal throughout the criminal justice process and from the alleged youth offender or youth offender throughout the juvenile delinquency proceedings.
- The right to have decisions by the court regarding the pretrial release of a criminal defendant based upon the principle of reasonable protection of the victim and the public, as well as the likelihood that the criminal defendant will appear for trial.
What is the statute of limitations for a crime?
A crime victim case is still categorized as type of personal injury case. Most personal injury cases have a two year statute of limitations. However, the legislature recently broadened the definition of "compensable crimes" so that more acts fall under a longer statute of limitations. Under the expanded law, the statute of limitations for compensable crimes is five years. Compensable crime means abuse of corpse in any degree or an intentional, knowing, or reckless or criminally negligent act that results in injury or death of another person and that, if committed by a person a full legal capacity, would be punishable as a crime in this state.
Should I pursue a civil claim?
It depends on your goals. You may be able to achieve your goals through the criminal justice system without ever having to file a civil case. Or, you may need to file a civil case against a third party who was responsible for making it possible for the criminal defendant to victimize you. I specialize in leveraging the interests of the various parties involved in criminal and civil cases in a manner that maximizes compensation and reduces litigation. Consult with a skilled personal injury attorney who is familiar with the criminal justice system sooner, rather than later, to determine whether you should pursue a civil claim. if you wait until the criminal case is resolved, you may miss out on opportunities the prosecution provides; worse you could miss a statute of limitation and lose your right to sue.
What is restitution?
Defendants in criminal cases typically must be ordered to pay restitution to the crime victims or survivors of homicide victims to help with their financial losses. Information regarding restitution is gathered by and presented to the court by the district attorney’s office. The court then orders the defendant to pay restitution as part of his or her sentence. Paying restitution usually becomes a condition of probation or post-prison supervision. Actually collecting the restitution money is difficult in some cases, however. In order to be eligible for restitution, the victim must prove he or she was in fact the victim of the crime in question and suffered economic damages as a result of the crime. Restitution cannot be collected for the future impairment of an earning capacity.
The economic damages that fall under restitution pay include, but are not limited to:
- Reasonable and necessary charges, such as medical, hospital, nursing, rehabilitative and other health care services;
- Burial and memorial services;
- Wage loss and/or impairment of earning capacity;
- Reasonable and necessary costs incurred for substitute domestic services;
- Recurring loss to the victims’ estate;
- Damage to reputation that is economically verifiable;
- Reasonable and necessary incurred costs for the loss of use to property or the repair or replacement of damaged property, whichever amount is less; and
- The value of the victim’s services to the defendant in cases involving involuntary servitude or human trafficking.
What is a compensatory fine, and will I receive one?
A compensatory fine is involved in criminal cases and meant to punish the defendant for his or her wrongdoing. A victim or survivor of a victim whose case is prosecuted in state court and who has economic damages is eligible for the court to order the defendant to pay a compensatory fine. Each dollar the defendant pays toward the fine is applied until the fine is fully paid. Payments received for other court-ordered obligations, like restitution and fees, are divided evenly between the obligations until each is completely paid, which is why some district attorneys seek compensatory fines instead of the full restitution amount. The amount a court may order for a compensatory fine varies based on the class of the felony or misdemeanor.