You Are Not Alone
Trying to carry the burden alone may be difficult. There are people who care about you and what happens to you. Report the crime to the police so they can assist you. Contact a friend or relative to be with you as you cope with the initial shock. The Victim Assistance officer from the Jacksonville Police Department can be with you during this time if you wish. Seek the support you deserve.
In searching for a reason for the crime, you may relive the experience and say to yourself, "If only I had ..." Try not to blame yourself. Remember, you are innocent and did not deserve to be hurt. You are no responsible for the crime committed against you - the criminal is!
This Can't Be Happening
Immediately after the crime, you may experience a sense of shock and disbelief. Feelings of confusion and disorientation are normal at this time. Strong emotions may surface in the days, weeks, and months that follow. Feelings of fear, anger, and depression can cause you pain and personal distress. Talk with someone who cares and understands, whether it is a close friend, relative, minister, or professional counselor.
A Word About Professional Counseling
Talking with someone about your experience and feelings about it can be helpful. It is a way of taking care of yourself and respecting yourself. Seeking counseling does not mean "something is wrong with you." It means that you have had a life-disrupting experience and you are taking positive steps to deal with it. The Victim Assistance Program can make referrals to counseling professionals and support groups based upon your needs.
The criminal justice system has traditionally ignored the special needs of victims of victims while focusing on protecting the rights of the accused. But that is changing. It is the policy of the State of North Carolina that victims of crime be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect; that they should be informed about the progress and outcome of their case, and that damages done to them be considered by the court as is decides their case.
As a victim of crime, you have the right:
- To be protected from further harm
- To receive immediate medical treatment when needed and not be detained for an unreasonable length of time before receiving care.
- To receive protection from harm, or threats of harm, arising out of cooperation with criminal justice personnel; and to be free from intimidation during the court process.
- To have stolen or other personal property returned as soon as such property is no longer needed as evidence.
- To full protection of your job and credit rating to the extent that these may be affected by the crime.
- To receive on a timely basis any restitution collected from offender / offenders.
- To be informed
- To receive an explanation of the criminal justice system as it affects your case, and information about your role in the process.
- To be notified of all criminal stages of the legal process, including bail hearings, final disposition and parole hearings.
- To be advised of any financial, psychological, legal or other assistance that may be available to you.
- To be advised to seek counsel in order to determine whether to seek civil remedies.
- To be heard
- To prepare and present (with assistance) a Victim Impact Statement describing the physical, psychological, and economic harm that you sustained as a result of the crime for the judge to consider prior to sentencing the defendant.
- To be present and to speak at all criminal stages of the prosecution process.
This Information is important and should be kept with you:
- Name of defendant
- Date of crime
- Case Number (OCA No.)
- Police officer at the scene
- Victim advocate
- Assistant district attorney
If you have additional information about the crime, contact the police officer or detective assigned your case or the Victim Assistance Program.
If You Need Protection
If you are being threatened or intimidated by the offender; contact the police or detective assigned your case, the District Attorney's Office, or the Victim Assistance Program.
If The Defendant's Attorney Contacts You
The defendant's attorney or an investigator for the defense may contact you to discuss what you know about the case. It is your right to decide whether or not to talk with them. You have the right to have the District Attorney present during any meetings with the defendant's attorney. Contact the District Attorney if anyone contacts you on behalf of the defendant.
- The Rape Victim Assistance Program: This program provides up to $1,000 for medical and counseling expenses. To be eligible you must have reported the assault to law enforcement within 72 hours of the attack, unless there was good cause for delay.
- North Carolina Victim's Compensation Fund: This fund was established in August 1987 to provide compensation to victims who have suffered financial losses due to criminally injurious conduct.
Compensation may not exceed $30,000 in North Carolina. Call 800-826-6200 for additional information.
You can hire an attorney and file a personal injury suit in civil court. You may either sue the person who committed the crime against you or seek to recover damages from a third party whose negligence may have contributed to the crime. You can sue for damages caused by the crime, including physical and psychological injuries, loss o income, and property damage. A civil case is very different from a criminal prosecution and usually takes much longer. If you bring a suit against the offender, you must do so within one year of the injury. If the suit is against a third party, you must begin these lawsuits for negligence within three years of the crime.
If the person who committed the crime against you is found guilty, the judge may order him to pay medical bills or other damages as part of the sentence. Payment will be made directly to you or through the court. You will need to keep receipts / records of any expenses you incurred as a result of the crime, as well as detailed information about your other losses. Your district attorney can discuss the possibility of restitution with you.