Crime Victims Information

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Being a victim of a violent crime can be a very traumatic experience that no one should have to endure.  Unfortunately, the facts are that many of us will eventually fall victim to some violent act.  This page will provide you with information on victim’s rights and compensation.
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NOTICE TO ADULT VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE

It is a crime for any person to cause you any physical injury or harm, even if that person is the member or former member of your household.  It is important that you tell the investigating peace officer if you, your child, or any other household resident has been injured or if you feel you are going to be in danger after the officer leaves.  If the offender or the offender’s companion(s) or family threatens or otherwise intimidates the victim or victim’s family, the police department should be contacted immediately.

You have the right to:

  1. Ask to file charges against the person committing family violence at your local police department.
  2. Be notified prior to the release from the county jail of a family violence suspect that was arrested for assault/family violence.
  3. Request a magistrate’s 31-61 day Order for Emergency Protection, and that you need not be present when the order is issued.
  4. Apply to a court for a two (2) year Protective Order in the jurisdiction the offense took place in.

You cannot be charged a fee by a court in connection with filing, serving, or entering a protective order.

PROTECTIVE ORDER

The court can enter the following order:

  1. That the abuser not commit further acts of violence;
  2. That the abuser not threaten, harass, or go to or near you at any time,
  3. Directs the abuser to leave your household,
  4. And establishes temporary possession of the children and directs the abuser not to interfere with the children or any property.

This protective order may be good for two (2) years.  A violation of certain provisions of a protective order is a criminal offense. The police department should be notified if any individual violates a protective order.  If a police officer arrests a person in violation of a protective not committed in his presence, or for any offense involving family violence, the victim must appear at the police department following the arrest to file charges.  Failure to do so may result in the release of the offender without charges.  Any person charged with an offense has a right to bail and is subject to speedy release.  The police department has no control over this action.

*** Restraining orders are not the same as a protective order.  Law enforcement cannot enforce violations of a restraining order.

RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS

The victim of sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, or who has suffered bodily injury or death as a result of the criminal conduct of another, the guardian of a victim or the close relative of a deceased victim is entitled to the following rights:

  1. The right to receive from law enforcement agencies adequate protection from harm and threats of harm arising from cooperation with prosecution efforts.
  2. The right to have the magistrate take the safety of the victim or his/her family into consideration as an element in fixing the amount of bail for the accused.
  3. The right, if requested, to be informed of relevant court proceedings and to be informed if those court proceedings have been canceled or rescheduled prior to the event.
  4. The right to be informed, when requested, by a peace officer concerning the defendant’s right to bail and the procedures in criminal investigations and by the county or district attorney’s office concerning the general procedures in the criminal justice system, including general procedures in guilty plea negotiations and arrangements, restitution, and the appeals and parole process.
  5. The right to provide pertinent information to a probation department conducting a pre-sentencing investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and his family by testimony, written statement, or any other manner prior to any sentencing of the offender.
  6. The right to receive information regarding compensation to victims of crime as provided by subchapter B, Chapter 56 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, including information related to the costs that may be compensated under that Act and the amount of compensation, eligibility for compensation, and procedures for application for compensation under Article 56.06 of this code for a victim of a sexual assault, and when requested, to referral to available social service agencies that may offer additional assistance.
  7. The right to be informed, upon request, of parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to be notified, if requested, of parole proceedings concerning a defendant in the victim’s case, to provide the Board of Pardons and Paroles for inclusion in the defendant’s file information to be considered by the Board prior to the parole of any defendant convicted of any crime subject to the Act, and to be notified, if requested, of the defendant’s release.
  8. The right to be provided with a waiting area, separate or secure from other witnesses, including the offender and relatives of the offender, before testifying in any proceeding concerning the offender;  if a separate waiting area is not available, other safeguards should be taken to minimize the victim’s contact with the offender and the offender’s relatives and witnesses before and during court proceedings.
  9. The right to prompt return of any property of the victim that is held by a law enforcement agency or the attorney for the State as evidence when the property is no longer required for that purpose.
  10. The right to have the attorney for the State notify the employer of the victim, if requested, of the necessity of the victim’s cooperation and testimony in a proceeding that may necessitate the absence of the victim from work for good cause.
  11. The right to counseling, on request, regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, antibodies to HIV, or infection with any other probable causative agent of AIDS, if the offense is an offense under Section 21.11 (a)(1), 22.011, or 22.021, Texas Penal Code.
  12. The right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, subject to the approval of the judge in the case.
  13. The right to privacy, as far as is reasonably practical, the address of the victim may not be part of the court file except as necessary to identify the place of the crime.  The phone number of the victim may not be part of the court file.

State law provides that a victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim may complete a Victim Impact Statement and have it considered by the court in a criminal case prior to the imposition of a sentence and by the Board of Pardons and Paroles in the parole process.

In the case of sexual assault, victims will not incur out-of-pocket expenses for forensic medical examinations.
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CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION

Purpose:  To compensate a Texas or U.S. Resident who becomes a victim of a crime in Texas and suffers personal injury or death as a result of a violent crime.

The program is administered by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Crime Victim’s Compensation Division, Austin, Texas, 1-800-983-9933.

Crime victim compensation is available to pay the amount of expense reasonably and necessarily incurred as a result of personal injury or death for:

  1. Medical, hospital, nursing, psychiatric care or counseling, or physical therapy. Total recovery may not exceed $50,000; exceptions of up to $75,000 may be made for some victims of crime.  In addition to an award payable under Subsection (a), the attorney general may award an additional $75,000 for extraordinary pecuniary losses, if the personal injury to a victim is catastrophic and results in total and permanent disability to the victim.
  2. Actual loss of past earnings and anticipated loss of future earnings because of a disability resulting from the personal injury, not to exceed $500 weekly, if eligible.
  3. Care of a child or dependent enabling a victim, a victim’s spouse, or a legal guardian of the victim, but not all of them, to continue or engage in gainful employment. Weekly allowance is $100 per child for day care.
  4. Funeral and burial expense not to exceed $4,500.
  5. Loss of support to a dependent in the event of the death of the victim.
  6. Reasonable and necessary cost of cleaning the crime scene up to $750.
  7. Reasonable replacement cost for clothing, bedding, or property of the victim seized as evidence or rendered unusable as a result of the criminal investigation up to $750.
  8. Emergency funds not to exceed $1,500.
  9. One-time payment of up to $3,800 ($1,800 for housing rental and $2,000 for other relocation expenses) for a victim of domestic violence. A person who is a victim of family violence or a victim of sexual assault who is assaulted in the victim’s place of residence may receive a one-time only assistance payment in an amount not to exceed (a) $2,000 to be used for relocation expenses, including expenses for rental deposit, utility connections, and expenses relating to moving of belonging, motor vehicle mileage expense, and for out of state moves, transportation, lodging, and meals, and (b) $1,800 to be used for housing rental expenses.

In order to qualify for Crime Victim Compensation:

  1. The crime must be reported within a reasonable period of time that does not impede the investigation and prosecution.
  2. The claim must be filed within three (3) years after the date the crime occurred.
  3. The victim and/or claimant must cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
  4. The victim must be the innocent victim of a violent crime.

The Crime Victim Compensation is the last source of financial assistance to pay.

Texas Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE)

VINE is an automated service that allows you to track the custody status of offenders or court hearings over the phone or internet.  You can also register to be notified by phone and e-mail if an offender is released, transferred, or escapes.  You can also be registered to be notified by phone and e-mail about changes in the status of a court event.  Cal l (877)894-8463 or visit www.vinelink.com and follow the instructions to access court information.

Texas Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)

With increased public access to personal information, there is a rising need for address confidentiality for victims of family violence, stalking, and sexual assault.  Texas has a new program to help these victims keep their actual addresses confidential.  The Texas Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), administered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), provides a substitute address and mail forwarding service for these victims and members of their household.  ACP should be utilized as a portion of an overall safety plan.  It is not a witness protection program or a guarantee of safety.

How to Apply:

Applicants must meet with a local domestic violence shelter, sexual assault center, law enforcement, or prosecution staff member to discuss a safety plan and enroll in the program.  To get contact information for local shelters, please access the Texas Council on Family Violence website at www.tcfv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799- SAFE.  To contact local centers, please access the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault website at www.taasa.org or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE.  Meeting with an advocate is vital to this process and required by law.  The OAG will not accept applications submitted directly by victims.

To learn more about the program, contact:
Texas Address Confidentiality Program
Office of the Attorney General
P O Box 12199 MC069
Austin, Texas 78711-2199
[email protected]
512-936-1750 or (888) 832-2322
Website for victims.

U Visa and T Visa

T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa)

T nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of trafficking. The T Visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases.

U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)

U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

For more information and how to apply, please visit:
http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes

Identity Theft

If you have become a victim of identity theft, please visit:
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/identitytheft

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Local Resources Available for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Women’s Shelter of South Texas:  http://thewomensshelter.org  361-881-0660
Women’s Shelter, Incorporated:  361-364-0660
Hotline:  1-800-580-4748
Texas Council of Family Violence Hotline:  1-800-525-1978

County Attorney’s Offices:

  • Aransas County: 361-790-0114
  • Nueces County: 361-888-0391
  • San Patricio County: 361-364-6103

updated: 4/22/2017 EB