The Busted! Grid is working closely with Crime Victims First, a nonprofit crime victims’ rights education, advocacy, and enforcement organization, to educate our visitors and subscribers to rights of crime victims. We are providing this information on their behalf and encourage you to visit their website to learn more and get involved with their all too important cause.
Crime Victims First – Helpful Hints
There are two types of complaints made by crime victims. General Complaints that involve a criminal justice professional or the process itself (i.e. someone not doing the job) and Rights Violation Complaints (i.e. a specific statutory or constitutional right has been requested and is denied).
These complaints can sometimes be a difference of opinion or misunderstanding. In these situations, a dispute might be resolved by taking the time to talk and listen. Research shows that most complaints are resolved with information, support, assistance, and some may require legal services.
Here are some basic steps that can be taken to address problems and concerns:
Report your crime – To be eligible for victims’ rights you must be a victim/survivor of a violent crime, you must report your crime to law enforcement, and cooperate throughout the process. If you are having trouble reporting your crime or need more information before you report it, please contact us immediately for assistance. CV1 provides information, support, and assistance regardless of whether you report your crime or not.
Request your rights in writing – You have statutory and constitutional rights to protect you if you report your crime and want to participate in the criminal justice process. However, not all rights are automatic. Most rights are “upon request” and require you to invoke your rights. CV1 recommends that you notify in writing the individuals and agencies that you want your rights and services afforded to you. See “Request Your Rights Letter.”
Read everything sent to you – Review the documents given or sent to you by police, prosecutors, probation officers, or other court personnel.
Ask questions – If you do not understand why something happened, ask for an explanation. Don’t be afraid to ask about the relevant rules, policies, or laws.
Keep records – Relying on memory is not always the most reliable method of recordkeeping and it can prove problematic if you want to make a formal complaint about a specific person or agency. Take notes of conversations, ask for the names and titles people you speak to, and keep all correspondence.
Prepare yourself – Before calling, review any documents and have your questions ready. Be clear ahead of time what you are asking and what you want.
Leaving messages – Remember that people can be busy and may not be able to talk to you right away. Leave a complete message about why you are calling along with contact information. When trying to communicate with the prosecutor’s office, it is often more useful to contact the victim advocate (if there is one) rather than the attorney in charge of the case.
Request a Meeting – If you feel that your efforts are being ignored, use the “request a meeting” letter to meet face to face and address your problems and concerns. See “Request a Meeting Letter.” If you are ignored or denied a meeting or problems continue take further action below. See “Go Through Standard Complaint Procedures,” below.
Send Final Demand Letter – This is the last step in our voluntary compliance model to attempt to resolve your issues and concerns. See “Final Demand Letter.” Send letter to individual and agency to summarize all the steps you have taken to ensure your issues and concerns are addressed, but there has been no resolution, so you plan to file a “Standard Complaint” with them directly and/or file a complaint with CV1.
Go through standard complaint procedures – Victims of crime who have complaints always have the option of relying on routine complaint methods. The most common method is to go through the chain of command—ask to speak to the person’s supervisor. If you are not satisfied, go to the supervisor’s boss. Finally, if you do not feel that your problems or concerns are being addressed and you feel that a rights violation is/has occurred then take further action.
File Victims’ Rights Violation Complaint with Crime Victims First – Most complaints should be resolved by utilizing all the steps above. However, there are situations that require formal intervention. If you are not able to resolve your situation using these helpful hints, please file a formal complaint with CV1 for immediate assistance. CV1 provides victim services and legal services to attempt to resolve complaints and enforce your rights.
Note: Even if you do everything perfectly enforcement of crime victims’ rights is difficult due to issues related to discretion and interpretation of the laws. There are no guarantees that victim services or legal services will be approved or resolve issues and concerns, but this is the current process available.