Learn about your rights as a victim.
There are few things that make you feel more helpless than being a victim of a crime. Whether the crime was violent or non-violent, you may feel traumatized and violated. If you have reported the crime to the police, you may feel some measure of relief, knowing that they are looking for the perpetrator — and that justice may be served.
But what happens if you don’t trust that the police will do a good job, or if you believe that they have botched the investigation? As an Irvine crime victims rights attorney can explain, one of the hardest things that many victims will face in the criminal justice system occurs when the police or prosecutors choose not to file charges. As Meg Garmin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) recently stated, if no charges are filed, victims “really struggle to have meaningful access to justice.”
A recent case out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin highlights this problem. A woman, Jane Doe, alleged that a prominent real estate developer drugged and raped her. She recently filed a lawsuit, asking the court to take the investigation away from the Milwaukee Police Department and turn it over to another law enforcement agency to conduct a full and fair investigation. The reason for her request is that her alleged rapist is both wealthy and politically connected. She claims that the police violated her right to confidentiality and showed favoritism to the suspect, including by rushing an interview with the suspect before more evidence could be gathered, and by interviewing him at a center that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault — against an agreement between the center and the police department. The outcome of the case is still unknown.
In California, crime victims and their families have certain rights, including being treated with fairness and respect for their privacy and dignity and to not have confidential information or records disclosed to the defendant if it could jeopardize their safety. However, there is not a specific right to dictate who conducts a police investigation, or how the police investigation should be conducted. In other words, if you believe that the police aren’t taking your case seriously, that they are showing favoritism to the alleged perpetrator, or that they have botched it in some way, there isn’t a specific right that allows you to demand that the case be given to another agency.
Working with an Irvine crime victims rights attorney may help you get justice. Your lawyer can advocate for you with the police and prosecutors, letting them know that you are actively involved — and that you are prepared to fight for what is right. Having someone to advocate for you can make a world of difference, particularly in a situation where you feel powerless and don’t know how to navigate the system. If you believe that there has been a cover-up or that your concerns aren’t being heard, your Irvine crime victims rights attorney can discuss additional steps with you, like the Milwaukee lawsuit or simply bringing public attention to your situation.
At Justice 4 Crime Victims, we are fierce advocates for victims of all types of crime in California. If you have been a victim of a crime, we are here for you. Reach out today at 949-585-9055 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation.