3 Reasons Crime Victims Should Hire A Lawyer
For those who are victims of a crime, it can often feel like the criminal justice system is leaving them behind when it comes to addressing their needs and desires for the outcome of their case. Many victims don’t realize that only the defendant will be provided with an attorney if necessary, and that a lawyer from the county district attorney’s office will be prosecuting the case.
While the prosecutor assigned by the district attorney’s office will sometimes have the same goals for the case as the victim (probation, jail time, restitution, etc), just as often the victim’s goals are at odds with what the state wants to do.
And though there are victim advocacy programs in each county in California, many of them are contained within the respective county’s district attorney’s office, which may influence the advice and counseling victims receive in their pursuit of justice.
If a crime victim feels that their goals and desires are different that the prosecutor’s, they should consider hiring their own attorney. This can help with several factors in their case.
1) Increased Chance Of Receiving Restitution
Marsy’s Law (also known as the Victim’s Bill of Rights) states that:
It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.
What it doesn’t say is that the victim is responsible for pursuing restitution on their own. While some counties offer assistance with the restitution process, it can be difficult to navigate, especially for those traumatized by a crime.
Hiring an attorney allows him or her to conduct a hearing to facilitate the victim restitution process, and often expedites the results because criminal attorneys understand how the system works better than victims do.
2) Advocating For Stronger Punishment
One of the most frustrating aspects of a crime victim’s case is that the prosecutor will sometimes try and cut a deal with the defendant’s attorney to avoid going to trial. This frequently means the defendant will receive a less severe punishment than if they had gone to trial and been convicted.
Seeing the defendant get a lighter punishment can, understandably, feel unfair. Watching the perpetrator walk away with only probation or a reduced sentence makes many victims feel that the trauma they suffered has been diminished by the legal system.
Working with a private attorney means that crime victims will have a dedicated advocate to appear in court and object to any proposed plea deals. While it doesn’t guarantee that a particular case will go to trial, it often has a profound effect on the judge and may cause them to re-evaluate the parameters of the agreement.
3) Filing A Civil Court Case
It is not uncommon for crime victims to suffer a financial loss or hardship as a result of the crime. This may be due to property damage or loss, or personal injury that required substantial medical treatment.
These kinds of expenses go beyond standard victim restitution, and may be grounds for a civil case. Civil cases are common when:
- A victim is injured by a drunk driver
- A landlord provides inadequate security
- A school or business fails to provide a safe environment for students or employees
Going after a defendant’s assets or forcing them to utilize insurance coverage is often the fastest way to recover a victim’s financial losses.
Speaking With An Attorney
In our experience, few victims are told by the district attorney’s office that, under Marsy’s Law, victims are entitled to hire their own attorney to represent their interests in court.
If you are a crime victim, and feel that your interests are not being considered or represented in your case, please contact our office for a consultation.
REQUEST A FREE PHONE CONSULTATION
At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.
We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.