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Your Rights as a Victim of Crime
As a victim of crime, it can be difficult to understand and navigate the criminal justice system which is built to protect the rights of the accused and not the rights of the victim. Being victimized is traumatic and the City of Worthington wants to help victims cope and recover. The following information explains your rights and how to take advantage of resources available to victims.
As a victim in Ohio, you have rights as defined in ORC 2930.04 and Article 1, Section 10a of the Ohio Constitution. Criminal justice system officials are required to perform certain duties to ensure that you know your rights. Some rights are automatic, while others require you to request.
When you file a police report as a victim of certain criminal offenses, police officers will provide you with a Victim’s Rights Request (VRR) Form (click here for printable form) to officially notify law enforcement, jail or other custodial agencies, prosecutors, and judges that you wish to request or waive certain rights.
Officers will also provide you with the Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s Rights booklet, or another document, which contains information about additional rights that may be available to you. You may reference the Victims’ Rights Toolkit, or The Ohio Attorney General's Services for Victims to help you research and understand your rights.
Your decision to request or waive your rights does not mean that you cannot change your mind later. However, if you first waive your rights and then request them at a later time, you may be forfeiting some rights that only apply at certain stages of the criminal justice process.
Arraignment is a courtroom hearing that can happen quickly after the defendant is charged. During arraignment the judge often decides whether to release the defendant on bond, conditions of bond, or issue a protection order. To attend arraignment and be heard by the judge, you should call the clerk of courts, jail, or investigating officer to confirm the time and date.
OHIO LAW GUARANTEES VICTIMS THE FOLLOWING:
- To Fair And Respectful Treatment For The Victim’s Safety, Dignity And Privacy.
- To Be Notified And Attend, Upon Request, All Proceedings Involving The Criminal Or Delinquent Conduct Against The Victim.
- To Speak In Any Public Proceeding Involving The Offender’s Release, Plea, Sentencing, Disposition Or Parole.
- To Reasonable Protection From The Accused Or Person Acting On His Or Her Behalf.
- To Receive Notice If The Offender Is Released Or Escapes.
- To Refuse To Answer Questions From The Offender Or Any Person Representing The Offender (Discovery), Except As Authorized By Article I, Section 10 Of The Ohio Constitution.
- The Full And Timely Restitution From The Offender.
- To Proceedings Without Unreasonable Delay And A Prompt Conclusion Of The Case.
- Upon Request, To Confer With The Government’s Attorney.
- To Written Notice Of All Rights In The Amendment.
Who is a Victim and Who Can Be a Victim Representative?
A victim is defined as a person against whom the criminal act is committed, or the person directly and proximately harmed by the criminal offense. Under Ohio Revised Code, adult parents of a child victim could also be considered victims or persons in a vehicle who are injured as the result of a vehicular homicide could also be considered victims. The suspect, defendant, or offender is not a victim.
Crime victims can exercise their rights themselves and/or appoint a representative to exercise their rights. Victims can appoint anyone to be their representative except the crime suspect, defendant, or offender. Victims can appoint or change a representative at any time.
If the victim is a minor, incapacitated, incompetent, or deceased, a member of the victim’s family or another person may act as the victim’s representative. If there is a conflict of who will act as the representative, each person can petition the judge to determine whom to appoint.
Your Right to Restitution and the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund
Restitution: Upon conviction, the court shall order the offender to pay you for verifiable financial costs relating to your victimization.
Crime Victims Compensation Fund: You may be eligible to apply for reimbursement of verifiable financial costs relating to your victimization as soon as a police report is filed, even if the suspect has not been arrested or convicted. Apply for compensation or call 800-582-2877.
In both instances, you may contact a victim’s advocate, victim’s rights attorney, and/or a victim’s compensation attorney for assistance. You must save receipts, estimates, invoices, pay stubs for lost wages, medical or other bills, mileage logs, and other written documentation of your losses, as this documentation will be required in order to obtain restitution or reimbursement paid by the Crime Victims Compensation Program.
Keeping Your Personal Information Private
You may register for the Ohio Secretary of State’s “Safe at Home” program to keep your home address private. Participants receive a “safe” mailing address to use official documents. Information is available at www.ohiosos.gov/secretary-office/office-initiatives/safe-at-home/survivors/ or at 614-995-2255.
Tracking an Incarcerated Person
Victim Information and Notification Everyday, or VINE, is a free, anonymous, and easy-to-use service that makes vital information about the custody status of inmates accessible to those who need it most: victims, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, probation and parole officers, advocates, neighbors, family members and the general public. If you are concerned about the custody status of an inmate in an Ohio state prison, county jail or juvenile facility, call VINE at 800-770-0192 or visit http://www.vinelink.com/.
Receive texts, calls, or emails to receive notice of a defendant or offender’s release or escape from jail or prison. Register at www.vinelink.com/#state-selection or 866-277-7477.
Your Right to Refuse a Request from the Accused
If the defendant, defendant’s attorney, or anyone else acting on behalf of the defendant has contacted you to request an interview or attempt to obtain any information or materials, immediately contact the prosecutor. If the suspect has not yet been charged, contact a victim’s rights attorney.
What Can I Expect if I'm a Victim of Crime in Worthington?
A Worthington police officer will provide a business card, a victim's pamphlet & a police report number to every victim who reports a crime. That card includes the officer’s name, contact information, the report number, and this website.
Representatives of the Worthington’s Law Department will facilitate victim’s rights in Mayor’s Court. Victims in cases that are heard in the Franklin County Municipal court will be represented by the City of Columbus Prosecutor’s Office.
For Mayor’s court cases contact Prosecutor Karen Scheffer at 614- 296-5356
For Franklin Co. Municipal Court cases call the Columbus Prosecutor’s Domestic Violence Unit at 614-645-6232
For indicted felony charges, call the Franklin County Victim Witness Assistance Unit at (614) 525-3555.
What Is Domestic Violence?
The law states that no person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member, recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member, or by threat of force knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Domestic Violence
If you believe you have been a victim of domestic violence, report it to police. Get to a safe place if you can, text or dial 911.
Who Can I Contact For Help?
FOR EMERGENCIES, CALL 911
The Columbus Domestic Violence Unit at (614) 296-6232.
CHOICES Crisis Hotline 24 hours (614) 224-4663 For support, food, safety, and a place to live,
Asha Ray of Hope, 4900 Reed Road, Columbus at (614) 565-2918.
For more information on the City of Columbus Prosecutor’s Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit, click here.
There are several types of protection orders that be granted by the court. Each type of order is different and available to victims of specific crimes.
For detailed information on protection orders when the offender is charges in the Franklin Co Municipal Court click here.
For more information on protection orders when the offender is indicted on a felony charge click here.
Arraignment will take place at the Franklin County Municipal Courthouse the next date court is in session in room 4-D. A victim must be present at arraignment to obtain a protection order. After the submission of a petition for a protection order, a hearing will take place between the victim and the judge. The offender will not be present at the hearing. A full hearing will then take place in 7 to 10 business days, when the victim and the offender will be present and testify under oath. If the order is granted by the courts, it will remain in effect until the criminal case is resolved. If the defendant violates the order, he or she can be charged with a new crime. The defendant cannot violate the order in any way — even with the victim’s permission. Only the judge can change the terms and conditions.
Franklin County Clerk of Courts can be reached at (614) 525-3650 and arraignment dates can be viewed online.
Franklin County Municipal Courthouse
375 South High Street
Fourth Floor, Room 4D
With today’s technology it is very likely that you will have your credit card used fraudulently at least once in your lifetime. You may have done nothing wrong to compromise your card – tricky technology may allow thieves to get this information without you knowing it. If you find charges on your card that you did not authorize, contact your credit card company immediately. They will walk you through their process for shutting down the account and sending you a new card. They may need a police report and WPD can provide a reference number that can be used for this purpose.
If your credit card was used fraudulently, you should take action to ensure your identity was not stolen. What is the difference? Identity theft is more than a thief using your credit card. It is someone who has obtained your personal information like your social security number, date of birth, address, bank account number, etc. The thief tries to use your information to open loan accounts in your name, steal your tax refund or social security, use your Medicare benefits, or attempt many other tricks to steal money.
What do I do if someone has stolen my identity?
Start by contacting your bank, which will walk you through changes that need to be made to protect your accounts depending on which accounts were compromised.
Then, contact a credit reporting company and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You can also file an Initial Fraud Alert online for more immediate results. Proof of identity is required. The company called must tell the other companies about the alert.
- Equifax 1‑(800)‑525‑6285
- Experian 1‑(888)‑397‑3742
- TransUnion 1‑(800)‑680‑7289
Finally, contact the police department to file a report and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. A consumer advocate is available through the Ohio Attorney General for those who do not feel comfortable in attempting to rectify the effects of identity theft themselves. For this program, you must file and submit a copy of a police report and an Identity Theft Notification and Affidavit form. Victims can also report Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES
- Ohio Attorney General Victim’s Services
- Ohio Attorney General Crime Victim’s Rights Booklet
- Ohio Constitution Victims’ Bill of Rights
- Crime Victim Restitution Summary Form
- Ohio Attorney General: Identity Theft Basics
- Ohio Job & Family Services: Unemployment Fraud
- Ohio Revised Code: Victims’ Rights
- U.S. Code: Rape Exam Payments
- Ohio Revised Code: Address Confidentiality Program