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Crime Victims FAQ

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1. Crime Victims’ Rights

A victim of crime is defined by Chapter 56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as (1) someone who is the victim of sexual assault, kidnapping, or aggravated robbery or who has suffered bodily injury or death because of the criminal conduct of another, (2) the close relative (spouse, parent, adult brother or sister, or child) of a deceased victim or (3) the guardian of a victim. The law also applies to victims of juvenile crime, including victims who suffer property loss.  The State of Texas intends that victims of crime receive the following safeguards, assurances and considerations:

  • Receive adequate protection from harm and threats of harm arising from cooperation with prosecution efforts; have their safety considered by the magistrate when setting bail;receive information, on request, of relevant court proceedings, including appellate proceedings, of cancellations and rescheduling prior to the event, and appellate court decisions after the decisions are entered but before they are made public; be informed, when requested, by a peace officer about the defendant’s right to bail and criminal investigation procedures, and from the prosecutor’s office about general procedures in the criminal justice system, including plea agreements, restitution, appeals and parole;provide pertinent information concerning the impact of the crime to the probation department prior to sentencing; information about the Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund and payment for a medical examination for a victim of sexual assault, and, on request, referral to social service agencies that provide additional assistance; information, on request, about parole procedures; notification of parole proceedings and of the inmate’s release; and the opportunity to participate in the parole process by submitting written information to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for inclusion in the defendant’s file for consideration by the Board prior to parole; a separate or secure waiting area at all public court proceedings; prompt return of any property that is no longer needed as evidence; have the prosecutor notify, upon request, an employer that the need for the victim’s testimony may involve the victim’s absence from work; on request, counseling and testing regarding AIDS and HIV infection and testing for victims of sexual assaultrequest victim-offender mediation coordinated by the Victim Services Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
  • be informed of the use and purpose of a Victim Impact Statement, to complete a victim impact statement and to have the statement considered before sentencing and acceptance of a plea bargain and before an inmate is released on parole.

A victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim may be present at all public court proceedings, with the consent of the presiding judge; A judge, attorney for the state, peace officer, or law enforcement agency is not liable for a failure or inability to provide a service enumerated herein.  Victims should also know that they can have a victim advocate accompany them during the sexual assault exam if an advocate is available at the time of the examination.

2. Crime Victims’ Compensation Program

Download Crime Victims’ Compensation Program Application (English)
Download Crime Victims’ Compensation Program Application (Spanish)

What is the Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) Program?
• The CVC Program may provide financial assistance to victims of violent crime for related expenses that cannot be reimbursed by insurance or other sources.
• The Program is administered by the Office of the Attorney General and is committed to assisting victims and claimants who qualify. The information provided is meant to be generally informative, and the statutory requirements of the Texas Crime Victims’
Compensation Act (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 56) and the rules set forth in Title 1 of the Texas Administrative Code, Part III, Chapter 61, govern the Program.
• Money in the Victims of Crime Compensation Fund comes from fees paid by those convicted of a crime.

What are the basic eligibility requirements for Crime Victims’ Compensation Program benefits?
• The victim must be a resident of Texas, a United States resident who is victimized while in Texas or a Texas resident victimized in another state or country that does not have a crime victim compensation fund.
• The victim or claimant must report the crime to the appropriate state or local public safety or law enforcement agency within a reasonable period of time.
• The victim or claimant must cooperate with law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
• All other available third party resources (for example, Medicare, Medicaid, personal health insurance, worker’s compensation and settlements) must meet their legal obligation to pay claims before CVC pays crime-related compensation benefits.
• The Crime Victims’ Compensation Program must be notified when a civil lawsuit is filed in relation to the crime or if restitution is ordered.

Who may be eligible for Crime Victims’ Compensation Program benefits?
• Victims of violent crime who suffer physical or emotional harm as a direct result of the crime.
• A victim’s dependents and/or family or household members who qualify as claimants.
• Someone who legally or voluntarily assumes financial responsibility for a victim’s medical or burial expenses.

Who is not eligible for Crime Victims’ Compensation Program benefits?
• The offender, an accomplice or any person who may unjustly benefit from an award to a victim or claimant.
• Anyone injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, except under certain circumstances provided by law.
• Benefits may be denied or reduced if the victim’s or claimant’s own behavior contributed to the crime.
• Anyone incarcerated when the crime occurred.
• Any victim or claimant who intentionally provides false or forged information to the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program.

What expenses may be covered with Crime Victims’ Compensation Program benefits?
• Reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses.
• Travel for medical, court and funeral events if more than 20 miles one-way.
• Loss of earnings as a result of the death of the victim (funeral/bereavement).
• Loss of earnings for crime-related disabilities and court or medical appointments.
• Loss of support to dependents of victims, if the victim was employed at the time of the crime.
• Counseling for victim and immediate family members of the victim.
• Eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures or prosthetic devices, if damaged or needed as a result of the crime.
• Crime scene clean-up.
• Replacement of property seized as evidence.
• New expenses for child or adult dependent care as a result of the crime.
• One time rent and relocation expenses for victims of family violence or sexual assault who were assaulted in their residence.
• Reasonable attorney fees for assistance in filing the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program application and obtaining benefits.

What expenses are not covered by Crime Victims’ Compensation Program benefits?
• Damage, repair or loss to property or vehicle.
• Pain, suffering or emotional distress damages.
• Any expense which is not the direct result of the crime.

Payment for Cost of Forensic Sexual Assault Examinations
A forensic sexual assault examination is a medical examination of the victim of the alleged assault for use in the investigation or prosecution of the offense. Either a law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) pays for the costs of forensic sexual assault examinations. CVC does not pay for the cost of forensic sexual assault examinations but reimburses law enforcement agencies and DPS directly for the costs they incur for the exams.  Therefore, a victim of sexual assault who receives a forensic sexual assault examination is not required to submit a CVC application for reimbursement of the cost of the examination.
• If a victim of sexual assault reports the alleged crime to a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency will request a forensic sexual assault examination and pay all costs of the examination. If a victim of sexual assault reports the assault to the law enforcement agency and requires medical treatment for crime related injury, the victim may submit an application to CVC for reimbursement of costs other than the forensic sexual assault examination.
• If a victim receives a forensic sexual assault examination and chooses not to report the alleged crime to a law enforcement agency, the Texas Department of Public Safety pays all costs of the examination. CVC may only pay for other crime related expenses if a victim reports the crime to law enforcement.

3. Filing Charges/Case Progress

As a victim, you can call at any time to get an update on the status of your case.  If the offender in your case is a juvenile, contact Cori Mooney with the County Attorney’s Office.  If the offender in your case is an adult, contact Brenda Williams with the District Attorney’s Office. 

4. Protective Orders

What is a protective order?
A protective order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence. Family violence is basically defined as any act by one member of a family or household intended to physically harm another member, a serious threat of physical harm, or the abuse of a child. Family includes blood relatives or relatives by marriage, former spouses, parents (married or not) of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or any member or former member of a household (people living in the same house, related or not).

How can a protective order help?
A protective order may prohibit the offender from:

  • committing further acts of family violenceharassing or threatening the victim, either directly or indirectly by communicating the threat through another person
  • going to or near a school or day-care center that a child protected under the order attends

In some situations, a protective order may also include orders to: prohibit transfer or disposal of property, establish possession and visitation of a child, pay child or spousal support for a period not to exceed one year, attend mandatory counseling and vacate the residence or other specified property, if certain conditions are met. These additional provisions are not criminally enforceable. A person who violates them is not immediately arrested, but may be taken to civil court, found in contempt, fined and jailed.

Who is eligible for a protective order?
In order for a protective order to be granted, the court must find that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again.  To obtain a protective order, the victim and the offender must be (1) related by blood or marriage, (2) living together, or previously lived together (including common-law and dating relationships), or (3) have a child together.  A person who has a divorce pending is eligible for a protective order.  The protective order must be filed in the court in which the divorce is pending.

Can I get a protective order because of mental abuse?
No. You must show that family violence -- physical abuse (pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, choking, or any other act intended to cause physical harm) or the threat of imminent physical abuse (the person is able and likely to follow through) -- has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. Mental abuse and emotional abuse are not part of the definition of family violence in the Texas Family Code.

Who may file a protective order?
1.         An adult member of the family or household; or
2.         any adult for the protection of a child; or
3.         a prosecuting attorney; or
4.         the Department of Family and Protective ServicesThe person who is the alleged victim of family violence is considered to be the
"applicant."  The person who the applicant wants protection from is considered to be the “respondent.”

How can I get a protective order?
You can apply for a protective order without an attorney, through the County Attorney, through a private attorney, or through a legal aid service program. The application must be filed in the county in which you or the offender lives. There are no minimum time limits to establish residency, and protective orders are available in every county in Texas. If you or the respondent lives in Grimes County, contact Cori Mooney with the County Attorney’s Office.

What will it cost me to get a protective order?
There is no cost to the victim.  The applicant (victim) or an attorney representing the applicant may not be assessed a fee, cost, charge, or expense by a district or county clerk or by a sheriff, constable or other public official or employee in connection with the filing, serving, entering or for any other service including any fees for dis-missing, modifying, or withdrawing a protective order, certifying copies, comparing copies to originals, court reporter fees, judicial fund fees, transferring a protective order or for any other service related to a protective order. The court shall require the respondent to pay the fees incurred in connection with the protective order unless the respondent shows good cause or is indigent.

Will I have to go to court to get a protective order?
Yes. The person you want an order against must be served - receive personal notification of your application for a protective order - and be given the opportunity to show up for court on the hearing day and object to the order.

How long does it take to receive a protective order?
Unless a later date is requested by the applicant, the court will attempt to set a hearing date no later than 14 days after the application is filed. If, however, the court finds from the information contained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court may immediately issue a temporary ex parte order. The temporary order is valid for up to 20 days. If the respondent  resides outside of Grimes County, additional time for service may be necessary.

How long does a protective order last?
Final protective orders can be effective for up to two years.  The exact duration is left to the discretion of the court.

What happens if the protective order is violated?
Call the police immediately!! Remember, protective orders do not offer complete protection. No piece of paper can protect you from all instances of violence. Law enforcement agencies are notified of protective orders issued in their area and they are required to maintain a list of those orders. If an offender violates the order and law enforcement is notified, officials will act to arrest the offender and seek to have charges filed. If a person violates the protective order in the presence of law enforcement, the offender must be arrested immediately. In cases involving the violation of a protective order, including an ex parte order where the respondent was served, the offender may be punished for contempt of court by a fine of as much as $500 or up to six months in jail or both. In cases of violations, excluding ex parte orders, the offender may be punished by a fine of as much as $4,000 or jail for up to one year or both.

What Other Options are Available?
A Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection may be issued at the time of a defendant's appearance before a magistrate after arrest for an offense involving family violence assault or a sexual assault. The order for emergency protection may be issued on the magistrate's own motion or on the request of:
1.         The victim;
2.         guardian of the victim;
3.         a peace officer; or
4.         the attorney representing the State. A Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection may prohibit the arrested offender from committing any further acts of family violence, communicating with a member of the family or household or the person named in the order, or making any threats or going near the place of employment, household or business of a member of the household or of the person named. The respondent may also be restricted from going near a school or day care facility. The victim does not have to be present in court when the order is issued. A violation of this order may be punishable by a fine of as much as $4,000 or by confinement in jail for up to one year or both.
Remember, if someone has physically assaulted or threatened you, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office to press charges against that person. Even if you are ineligible for a protective order, you may be able to have the person arrested for assault, criminal trespass, or stalking.

What’s the difference between a protective order and a restraining order?
A restraining order is a civil legal remedy available when, generally speaking, a person’s rights have been subjected to irreparable harm by another.  A restraining order can be sought if you are the victim of harassment, threats or violence from family or non-family members such as strangers, friends or co-workers.  To obtain a restraining order, you should contact a private attorney.Both types of orders can direct a person to stay away from your home and place of employment and to not be violent with you. However, only a protective order is criminally enforceable, meaning that the abuser can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense for violating the order. The police cannot arrest someone for violating a restraining order; you must go back to the judge who issued the restraining order to enforce it.