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Victim Assistance

 UPDATED: November 2, 2018

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Victim Rights

Jody Strang
Jody Strang
Victim-Witness Coordinator

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The direct-dial phone number to speak with our Victim-Witness Unit is
(517) 543-4835

  


The Eaton County Victim-Witness Assistance Service is a liaison
between crime victims and witnesses, and the criminal justice system.

 

Crime in Eaton County touches all of us. When one person is victimized, we all --- as a community --- suffer. If you are not personally a victim of crime, then you know a relative, friend or neighbor who is. Being a victim of, or a witness to, crime can be a frightening experience. You often feel violated by the intrusion into your life and are left with feelings of anger and pain.

Victims and witnesses naturally look to the criminal justice system for vindication and justice, but all too often find a court system which appears to be dedicated to protecting the very people who have caused their anger and pain. While the criminal justice system is designed to protect, support and serve our communities, most citizens do not learn about it until after they become victims of crime --- the worst possible time to try to understand the complex roles and responsibilities of each of the "players" in the system. However, no criminal can be successfully prosecuted without the valuable assistance of victims and witnesses.

As a result of strong advocacy, crime victims have rights. The web pages linked above will help you to learn about those rights, inform you about Michigan's Victim Compensation Fund, answer many questions concerning crime victims, and advise you of local, state-wide and national crime victim resources.  The National Center for Victims of Crime has links to cover topics such as; Assault, Child Abuse (for youth), Domestic Violence, Homicide, Impaired Driving, Robbery, Sexual Violence, Stalking and What Adults Need to Know About Child Abuse.  We are one of many service agencies created to help and support victims of crime. 

Our Victim-Witness Assistance Program is designed to help victims and witnesses ... to answer questions ... to keep you informed ... to provide referrals to counseling and support groups ... and to provide personal assistance when possible.   

I encourage you to contact our Victim-Witness Coordinator, Jody Strang, if you have any questions. We are here to serve you.

With kindest regards,
Douglas R. Lloyd
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney


How We Can Help


The Eaton County Victim-Witness Program was created to assist victims and witnesses of crime during their involvement with the criminal justice system. We provide the following services upon request:

  • status information on cases
  • referrals for counseling, support groups and emergency services (food, shelter and clothing)
  • crime victim compensation information
  • victim impact statements
  • restitution information and assistance
  • help with the return of personal property
  • accompanying a victim to court
  • employer intervention
  • orientation to the courtroom setting and information on how the court works
  • privacy prior to appearing in court
  • informing the community about victim's rights

Our office is located on the second floor of the Eaton County Courthouse, 1045 Independence Blvd., Charlotte, MI 48813. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

As a crime victim, you may need information. We encourage you to call with any questions or concerns, and let us assist you. Call Jody Strang, our Victim-Witness Coordinator at (517) 543-4835, or call a victim assistance agency.

 

What Rights Do Victims Have?


The Michigan Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 24; eff. Dec. 24, 1988) and the Crime Victim's Rights Act (1987 PA 85) give crime victims the right to:

  • be treated throughout the criminal justice process with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy
  • timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused
  • receive an explanation of court procedures
  • reasonable protection from the accused throughout the criminal justice process, including having a waiting area separate from the defendant and the defendant's relatives and witnesses (if practical), and to receive an explanation of procedures to follow if threatened or intimidated by the defendant
  • be free from threats or acts of discharge from your employer because you are subpoenaed or requested by the Prosecuting Attorney to testify in court
  • consult with the Prosecuting Attorney to give your views about the disposition of the case
  • notice of:
    • emergency and medical services [from the investigating police agency]
    • the name of the person in the Prosecutor's Office with information about your case;
    • all scheduled court proceedings, including sentencing;
    • the defendant's release on bond or escape from custody while awaiting trial;
    • the address and telephone number of the probation department that is preparing the pre-sentence investigation report, if one is ordered by the Judge;
    • victims compensation benefits and the address of the Crime Victim Services Commission, and an explanation of eligibility requirements for compensation funds
  • attend trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend (except possible sequestration during a trial before you testify)
  • confer with the prosecution before trial and before the jury is selected
  • make an oral statement to a pre-sentence investigator, or to have a written impact statement included in the pre-sentence report
  • make an oral or written statement to the court at sentencing. [NOTE: Your oral or written statement at sentencing is important! Only you can really explain the impact of the crime upon your life.]
  • full restitution
    • restitution should include the reasonably expected costs of medical & psychological treatment, physical therapy and homemaking/child care
    • if homemaking or child care is provided without cost, restitution should be ordered for the costs that would have been incurred without the volunteer service
    • restitution may include the cost of a lost tax deduction due to a dependent's death
    • triple restitution may be ordered for death or serious impairment of a bodily function
    • if defendant requests modification of method of paying restitution, the court must consider whether it will impose a manifest hardship on the victim
    • parents of a juvenile tried as an adult can be ordered to pay restitution
    • wage assignment may be ordered for every employed defendant
    • if probation officer determines that restitution is not being paid, he/she must notify the court or petition for a probation violation
    • court fees cannot be imposed for taking action to enforce restitution
    • restitution unclaimed for two years will be placed in the crime victim rights fund, after which a victim may make a claim for his/her restitution at any time
    • a priority is established for payment of victim fees, restitution, fines and costs
  • information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused
  • an explanation of the appeal process, to be advised if the defendant has been released on an appeal bond, to be advised of the time and place of appellate court proceedings, and to be advised of the result of an appeal
  • prompt return of your property taken during an investigation, except as otherwise provided by the law

 

Miscellaneous

 

I. Victim Status
· defendant or incarcerated person can not be designated to represent a victim
· victim physically/emotionally unable to exercise rights may designate adult to act in his/her place
· person charged with a crime arising out of same transaction as the defendant is not a "victim"
· incarcerated person is not entitled to victim rights (except to submit a written statement to the court for consideration at sentencing)
· victim's home & work addresses and phone numbers should not be in court files
· victim's home & work address and phone number, and any visual representation of the victim are exempt from FOIA, except that it may be released to a victim advocacy organization
II. Arrest & Trial
· victim may request arresting law enforcement agency for notice of defendant's arrest and/or release. Sheriff or juvenile facility must notify arresting agency, who then must notify the victim
· if case will be prosecuted under a local ordinance, the arresting law enforcement agency must give victim the name & business address of the municipal attorney + a statement that prosecution under a local ordinance does not affect their rights
· prosecutor's initial notice of rights must include a convenient way for the victim to advise the prosecutor that the victim is choosing to exercise his/her rights
· victim cannot be sequestered after they testify in a court hearing
· victim may designate an adult (who is not the defendant and not incarcerated) to deliver his/her oral impact statement
III. Appeals
· victim is entitled to notice when the prosecutor appeals
· if the prosecutor has filed the appropriate notice form with the appellate court, the court must expedite delivery to the prosecutor, by any means reasonably calculated to give prompt notice, information reversing a conviction or denying an appeal
IV. Corrections
·upon request, the Department of Corrections must give the victim notice of:
  1. the prisoner's transfer between community residential or electronic monitoring programs, or from a residential program or electronic monitoring program to prison
  2. the prisoner's conviction of a new crime
  3. the prisoner's return to prison from a parole violation
  4. the victim's right to appeals a parole decision
· upon the victim's request, the Sheriff must notify them if a prisoner is placed on day parole or work release
V. Juvenile Proceedings
· except for valid, legal reasons stated on the record, a juvenile court cannot refuse to accept a petition alleging a crime
· the court must provide notice to the prosecutor before it can divert a juvenile delinquency case or place the case on an informal consent calendar
· if no pre-sentence report is going to be prepared in a juvenile case, the court must give the prosecutor at least 10 days notice before the disposition hearing so the victim can be notified about the disposition hearing
· if a juvenile is under the jurisdiction of the court, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, or a county juvenile agency, the appropriate agency must notify the victim, in accordance with the victim's request, if the juvenile is detained for committing a crime
· if a juvenile is sentenced to prison or jail by a juvenile judge, the victim is entitled to receive the same notices from the Department of Corrections or Sheriff that they would receive under Articles 1 and 3 of the Crime Victim Rights Act

 


Victim Compensation

 

What is the Crime Victim Compensation Fund?

The Michigan Crime Victim Compensation Fund was established to provide financial help to crime victims who suffer personal injury (bodily harm) or lose earnings or support because of the crime. Our Victim Assistance Coordinator will be able to help with any questions you might have.


What compensation may be awarded?

The actual amount of compensation, if any, depends upon the facts of each case. Do not try to decide for yourself whether you are eligible. If you have any doubt, file a claim and the Board will decide. Compensation to crime victims is limited in many ways, including:

  • maximum total dollars --- $15,000
  • maximum funeral expenses --- $2,000 --- including up to $500 in grief counseling for the spouse, children, parents or siblings of the person who died
  • up to $200.00 for each week of lost earnings or lost support (in the case of a death)
  • 26 hours of psychological counseling for the injured person, at up to $80/hour for a licensed therapist or up to $90/hour for a licensed psychologist or physician
  • losses resulting from an injury or death are awarded only if a person has no insurance or public assistance available
  • victim must have suffered a serious financial hardship

The actual amount of compensation, if any, depends upon the facts of each case. Do not try to decide for yourself whether you are eligible. If you have any doubt, file a claim and the Commission will decide.

NOTE: The minimum loss requirements will be waived for persons retired by reason of age or disability, and for the expense of forensic medical exams for sexual assault victims.


What losses are not covered?

  • personal property loss or damage
  • pain and suffering
  • crime scene clean-up
  • relocation costs, living expenses or the costs of participating in a trial
  • lost earnings by an injured person's family members
  • injuries received while confined in a correctional facility
  • in traffic cases, crime victims' compensation is limited to the unpaid balance on funeral expenses after no-fault insurance pays

NOTE: These losses might be recoverable through court-ordered restitution as part of a convicted perpetrator's criminal sentence, or through the enforcement of a judgment obtained in a civil lawsuit against the wrongdoer.


Where does the money come from?

Money to support the Crime Victim Compensation Fund is paid by criminal defendants convicted in Michigan's courts, plus from some criminal fines in Michigan's federal courts.


Am I a "crime victim"?

The Crime Victim Services Commission will consider you to be a "crime victim" if:

  • you suffered personal physical injury as the direct result of a crime in Michigan,
  • you suffered personal physical injury while trying to help a crime victim,
  • you are a surviving spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister of a person who died as a direct result of a crime,
  • you are a Michigan resident who was injured by crime committed in another state, when that other state does not have a victim compensation program available, or
  • you are a Michigan resident who was injured outside the U.S.A. by an act of international terrorism.


Does the Crime Victim Compensation Fund only apply to "assault" victims?

No.


What conditions apply to the Crime Victim Compensation Fund?

  • the crime must have been reported to the police within 48 hours (unless the Commission finds there was good cause for a longer delay);
  • the crime victim must have cooperated with the investigation and court proceedings against the defendant(s);
  • the crime victim must not have caused the injury or been doing something illegal or dangerous at the time of the injury;
  • the person filing the claim can not be criminally responsible for the crime, be an accomplice, or have contributed to the infliction of the injury;
  • the person filing the claim cannot be an inmate;
  • the crime victim must have a minimum $200 out-of-pocket medical expense and/or a loss of two continuous weeks of earnings or support;
  • the compensation claim must be filed within 1 year of the crime or 1 year of the victim's death (although other time limits apply when a child is a victim of sexual abuse, or when a crime is discovered by a law enforcement agency where the injury was previously determined to be accidental, of unknown origin, or from natural causes);
  • a deceased victim's immediate family member may file a claim in the victim's place;
  • expenses or losses that are covered by personal insurance or that can be paid by another source will not be covered;
  • compensation is limited to medical expenses, funeral costs, counseling, rehabilitation, and loss of earnings or loss of support resulting from an injury which is the direct result of a crime. Property loss is not covered.

NOTE: The Prosecuting Attorney does not represent the Crime Victim Services Commission. The Prosecuting Attorney cannot waive any requirement of the law or rules of the Commission.


How do I file a claim?

Obtain and completely fill out an application form. Forms are available from the Crime Victim Services Commission, our office, police or sheriff's departments, and victim assistance agencies. Your claim must be filed with the Commission not later than 1 year after the occurrence of the crime. File the claim by mailing it to:

Crime Victim Services Commission
320 South Walnut
Lansing, MI 48913
(517) 373-7373


What do I send?

  • a fully completed application;
  • itemized copies of all bills you want to claim. If you need further medical treatment, see if your doctor can give you a written estimate of future expenses;
  • copies of insurance or Medicare benefit statements for all expenses;
  • for lost earnings, copies of recent payroll check stubs and disability statements from your doctor;
  • for burial assistance, a copy of the signed itemized funeral bill;
  • for counseling, ask your therapist for an assessment, treatment plan and itemized bill or estimate;
  • for loss of support, send check stubs or the last tax return of the person who died, and the survivor's social security benefit and life insurance statements.

NOTE: DO NOT SUBMIT FALSE INFORMATION! Doing so to get money from the State is a crime. People who get money to which they are not entitled, because of false information, cheat legitimate crime victims from limited monies that the State of Michigan provides for them.


When do I file a claim?

  • within one (1) year of the date of the injury;
  • claims for child abuse should be filed within one (1) year of the report to the police, but no later than the child's 19th birthday;
  • within one (1) year of discovering that an injury, originally thought to be accidentally or naturally cause, was caused by criminal conduct;
  • a longer time to file a claim will be allowed after a written request shows good reason (e.g., someone helping the victim did not follow through, a child's injuries were more serious than originally believed, etc.);
  • you do not have to wait until the investigation or trial is over.


Do I need an attorney to file a claim?

Except in unusual circumstances, you do not need an attorney but you always have the right to hire or consult with one. The Commission investigates each claim and is willing to deal directly with you without an attorney. You can hire an attorney at any stage of the process. However, any attorney fee must be paid by you, and Commission rules do not limit the amount that an attorney might charge you.


Is my claim limited because I also have insurance?

Yes. The Commission is the payor of last resort. Payments from insurance or public funds for out-of-pocket expenses, lost earnings or support (except disability or death benefits paid to a peace officer) are primary resources, and must paid and reported to the program before any award for remaining compensation is considered by the Commission. The claimant must repay the State of Michigan out of any later insurance settlement or court-ordered restitution covering a loss reimbursed by the Commission.


What happens after a claim is filed?

Your application will be reviewed by Commission staff for completeness. An incomplete form will be returned to you with a list of the information or additional paperwork that are needed.

Your claim is assigned a claim number. The Commission will notify the Prosecuting Attorney that a claim for compensation is pending. A claim specialist will conduct an investigation to verify the validity of the claim and the extent of any compensable loss. The claimant may be requested to provide documentation if the Commission is otherwise unable to verify the claim.


How long does it take for my claim to be reviewed?

This depends on the accuracy and completeness of your application, and how long it takes to get additional information the Commission needs to investigate.

You will be notified in writing with the record and findings of your claim. If it is approved, the decision will show itemized payments, which will be made within a few days; if you owe money to your medical providers, the Commission will pay the providers.


If my claim is denied, can I appeal?

If your claim is denied, the Commission will notify you in writing, and the legal reasons will be explained. If you are dissatisfied, you have 30 days to appeal the individual Commission member's decision to the full Crime Victim Services Commission. You may request an evidentiary hearing. The decision of the full Commission is final. If still dissatisfied, you may filed a request for leave to appeal with the Court of Appeals within 30 days after the Crime Victim Services Commission's final decision.


Is my application confidential?

A person's papers and testimony before the Commission are private. The Commission may tell only whether a person's claim was approved or denied. Any other information will only be released by a court order.


 

Victim Frequently-Asked Questions

 

What typically happens during a criminal prosecution in Michigan? What are the steps?

Please see our Anatomy of a Prosecution web page for a summary ... from the crime occurring through sentencing and appeals.


Am I a "crime victim"?

Under the Crime Victim's Rights Act (1987 PA 85), a "victim" means an individual who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime. If the victim is deceased, then that person's spouse, child, parent, guardian or grandparent might qualify. If the victim is a minor (under age 18), then the victim's parent, guardian, or custodian may choose to exercise the child-victim's rights. If the victim is mentally or emotionally unable to participate in the legal process, then his or her parent, guardian or custodian may exercise the rights.


What if someone threatens me?

Concerns about your well-being and safety after being victimized or witnessing a crime are normal. If you have any fears or receive any threats concerning your involvement in a case, you should immediately contact the law enforcement agency that investigated the case, or the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. In an emergency situation, call 911. Do so as soon as possible so that the threats can be documented and appropriate action taken. There are laws to protect you against people who attempt to bribe, intimidate, threaten, or harass you. Create a safety plan so you know what you would do if any threat concerns you.


How can I protect myself from being stalked?

If you feel that you are being stalked, you can do a lot of things to protect yourself. There is no single response that is appropriate for all stalking victims. Here are some suggestions:

  • Contact your local law enforcement authorities.
  • Get a Personal Protection Order from your county's Circuit Court. If you have PPO questions, contact your county's Prosecuting Attorney.
  • Keep detailed records of all incidents. When possible, tape-record, videotape or photograph encounters. Make sure the harassment is officially noted in police reports so you can establish a history for court proceedings. Note the date, the time and place of each incident. Take photos of destroyed property or injuries. Keep all answering machine tapes for evidence, especially those that contain threats to harm or kill.
    To help you document PPO violations, download our Stalking Victim's Log!
  • Warn people about your situation. Tell family members, neighbors and co-workers to not give out personal information about you to anyone. At work, have visitors and phonecalls screened. Tell building security about your situation.
  • Secure your home. Install good deadbolt locks and adequate outside lighting. Lock your windows.
  • Change you daily travel route so the stalker cannot easily follow you. Do not walk alone.
  • Get a second, unlisted phone line or a cellphone so that your answering machine can record threats. You can pick up calls from family and friends on your private line. Give your private line number out to only a few trusted people.
  • Contact groups that can help, such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance (1-800-879-6682), the EVE, Inc. (End Violent Encounters; 517-372-5572), or a local women's shelter in your area.
  • Do not try to talk sense into a stalker or agree to meet your stalker to "clarify things."
  • Do not plead with the stalker to be left alone. It does no good. Call the police.
  • Do not return gifts or send back letters. In many cases this, has caused the stalking to intensify. Keep items for documentation and evidence.
  • Do not come to the stalker's aid if the person fakes a crisis to make you feel guilty. If the stalker threatens suicide, call the police to assist.
  • If your stalker is an ex-lover, forget about reconciliation.
  • Be prepared. Have quick access to telephone numbers and locations of police departments, emergency shelters or friends' homes. Keep money and a packed suitcase available with your important documents for a quick departure. Create a safety plan for yourself.


What if the defense attorney contacts me?

In representing a client, a defense attorney may contact you and want to talk to you about the case. Keep in mind that you do not have to talk to anyone about the crime, including the defense attorney or their investigator prior to testifying in court. If you choose to do so, always request proper identification and an explanation of the purpose of the interview. If you have any concerns about talking with a defense attorney or their investigator, you are encouraged to contact the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in charge of your case and to have him/her with you at the time of the interview.


Can you tell me what the defendant's sentence will be?

Sentencing in Michigan varies with the crime and can be the most confusing part of the criminal process. A few crimes have mandatory sentences, but most often the sentences are at the judge's discretion. Because of that, a prosecutor can only guess (or hope) what the actual sentence may be.

  • Misdemeanor offenses generally carry a maximum sentence of 90 days or 1 year in the county jail, can result in probation for up to 2 years, counseling, community service and driver's license sanctions.
  • Felony offenses range from a minimum sentence of 366 days to a maximum of life in prison. Sometimes, the statutory maximum time for an individual crime is lengthened because the defendant is a repeat offender. In addition to incarceration in jail or prison, convicted felons may be sentenced to probation.


I am the victim and I want to drop the charge. Can I?

Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to "press charges" against the wrongdoer, or to later "drop the charges". All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. Criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Michigan, not the people who called the police or those who were personally harmed by the defendant's conduct. ONLY the Prosecuting Attorney can issue or dismiss charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the wrongdoer off the victim's shoulders and puts it on the Prosecuting Attorney's, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot "pressure" the victim into dropping the charges.

Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the Prosecuting Attorney, the victim's opinion is important and the Prosecuting Attorney will take those wishes into account when making his or her decisions regarding the case. A variety of factors are taken into account when deciding whether to honor a complainant's request not to proceed with a prosecution, including the nature and extent of the defendant's prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger the defendant poses to the community (including the current victim).


The judge ordered the defendant to pay restitution to me, but so far I haven't received anything. Who can help me?

Call the District or Circuit Court's probation department at the Courthouse --- (517) 543-7500 --- and ask for the probation agent who is assigned to the defendant. Update the probation officer if payments have not been made and the probation officer can help you get your money if restitution was a condition of the defendant's probation, and if the defendant is still on probation. Otherwise, see a private lawyer, because the restitution order is a court order that you can enforce like any civil judgment.


How do I get my property back?

If your property was stolen and recovered by the police, it can sometimes be returned to you before the case is done; if the items are important pieces of evidence, in most cases we will need to keep the property secured in police custody. Ultimately, the decision whether evidence is released must be made by one of our office's attorneys.

Download our Request for Return of Property form, or contact Jody Strang, our Victim-Witness Coordinator at (517) 543-4835, for a copy. Return the completed form to our office so an APA can review it. You may be asked to present pictured identification.


 

 

Crime Victim & Crime Prevention
Program Calendar

 

2019

 

APRIL 2019
National Child Abuse Prevention Month Prevent Child Abuse America
4/8 - 4/12 National Youth Violence Prevention Week  
4/7 - 4/13 National Crime Victims' Rights Week:
Honoring Our Past, Creating Hope for the Future
DoJ Office for Victims of Crimes
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Org for Victim Assistance
www.CrimeVictims.gov
4/10 Crime Victims' Candlelight Vigil
Michigan Capitol Rotunda
 
MAY 2019
5/1 Law Day

ABA Law Day 2018:

The 14th Amendment: Transformimg American Democracy

5/12 - 5/18 National Police Week National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
5/15 National Peace Officers' Memorial Day  
5/25

National Missing Children's Day

 
JULY 2019

AUGUST 2019

8/6 National Night Out National Association of Town Watch
National Night Out
SEPTEMBER 2019
  National Campus Safety Awareness Month

www.securityoncampus.org

9/25 National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Victims

www.pomc.org

9/08 - 9/14 National Suicide Prevention Week

www.suicidology.org

  Crime Stoppers  Month www.c-s-i.org

OCTOBER 2019

National Crime Prevention Month National Crime Prevention Council
10/21 - 10/27 America's Safe Schools Week

www.schoolsafety.us

  National Domestic Violence Awareness Month www.ncadv.org
  National Bullyiing Prevention Awareness Month

www.schoolsafety.us

NOVEMBER 2019
  Tie One on for Safety www.madd.org

DECEMBER 2019

National Drunk & Drugged Driving Awareness Month Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Commission Against Drunk Driving

 


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