Frequently Asked Questions

OCVJC SERVICES

+ What services does OCVJC provide to victims?

  • Free legal services during the criminal justice process when a victims' constitutional or statutory rights are being violated.
  • We assist with Victim Compensation, VINE, and safety plans.
  • OCVJC incorporates the principles of Trauma Informed Care into our interactions with victims from our first contact with a victim, and throughout the attorney-client relationship.
    -Staff is trained on trauma informed and culturally competent practices and the roles that violence and victimization play in the lives of victims.
    -Staff utilizes processes for client intake and client interactions to minimize the possibilities of re-victimization. Staff reviews procedures regularly and makes adjustments, as needed, to meet client needs in a trauma informed manner.
    -Staff advocacy focuses on assisting victims to achieve growth, resilience, and healing.
    -Staff respects a victim’s choices and need to control their recovery, and empowers victims with knowledge to make these decisions. -Staff forms attorney-client relationships based on partnerships with the victims, minimizing the power imbalance between attorney and victims.
    -Staff forms attorney-client relationships based on partnerships with the victims, minimizing the power imbalance between attorney and victims.
    -Staff emphasizes the victim’s strengths and focuses on trust and safety with clients.. -Staff collaborates with non-traditional and expanded community supports (such as faith communities, friends and families, etc.) to help victims achieve their goals.

What services are not currently offered at OCVJC?

Civil assistance:

  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Suing people or businesses
  • Lawsuits against police, prosecutors, and judges

Criminal assistance:

  • Criminal or delinquency defense
  • Expungement and/or sealing of criminal or delinquent records

Does OCVJC serve clients outside of Ohio?

Our attorneys practice in Ohio state courts and Ohio federal courts. If you are calling from another state, our advocates can help you locate services within your state.

What accommodations do you provide to persons with disabilities?

  • We provide services to all crime victims regardless of their disAbility.
  • If you need an accommodation, please contact us.

Do you serve persons with limited English proficiency or non-English speakers?

  • Yes, we offer foreign language interpreters upon request.

How can I request OCVJC to look into my case?

Click here Request For Assistance. We will follow up within one business day.

Victims' Rights in Ohio's Courts

Key rights & information that victims need to know

The Victims Rights Toolkit contains a complete, chronological list of all of the rights of Ohio's crime victims in state and federal courts. These rights are broken down by phase of the process, including the hospital, investigation, prosecution, and post-conviction.

What are rights violations?

Many victims' rights are defined in Ohio Revised Code Section 2930 and the Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 10a ("Marsy's Law"). You can find a complete list of your rights in the Victims Rights Toolkit.

Do the police have to take a report?

In most cases, police are not required to take a report. Police have discretion as to whether they believe a crime was committed.

Yes, police and prosecutors are able to bring charges against an offender even if the victim does not want to go forward with the complaint.

Can the prosecutor make a victim testify?

Yes, in most cases if you are subpoenaed to testify, it is your legal obligation to comply with the subpoena. If you do not comply with the subpoena, there may be potential consequences including contempt of court and jail time. If you have a question about a subpoena, you should contact an attorney immediately.

What is a Grand Jury and does the victim have the right be present at Grand Jury?

The Grand Jury is a secret process which victims do not have the right to attend. Grand juries do not decide whether a defendant committed a crime, and they do not sentence offenders to probation, jail, or prison. Grand juries only decide if there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed a crime. If the prosecutor has the victim to testify in front of the Grand Jury, the victim can only be present during their own testimony. Sometimes, prosecutors do not need the victim to testify at Grand Jury.

What is an advocate and what do advocates do?

An advocate may work for the law enforcement, the prosecutor, the court, or a community based organization like a rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter. Advocates provide information, support, safety planning, resources, courthouse and meeting accompaniment, and many other services to victims. Advocates serve a vital role in the criminal justice process.

Have you been in contact with an advocate?

  • Victims going through the criminal justice process may have access to an advocate in a law enforcement or prosecutor's office or local advocacy organization.
  • Victims not going through the criminal justice process can contact community based organizations for resources that may be available to them. Please visit our resource list.

Records and Evidence

How can I retrieve my records?

  • Medical records: Call the records department at your medical provider to see which forms or information are needed to request your records. You have the right to copies of your medical records, but you may have to pay copying and shipping fees.
  • Police reports: You can make a public records request to the police department where you reported the crime. You can make the request orally or in writing, but it is best to make a request in writing. If you have trouble retrieving police records, contact OCVJC.
  • Coroner's reports: A general coroner's report is available to the public, but more detailed reports can only be requested by certain family members.

Which police records can I request?

Which records you are able to retrieve depends on the status of the case.

  • If the case is under investigation, you are only entitled to some limited records.
  • If the investigation is closed, you are entitled to most of the records, but some records are not released. For example, you cannot get work product (investigative notes, Child Protective Services reports, and medical records), social security numbers, and the names of uncharged suspects.

Crime Specific Information

Stalking: What evidence should you collect?

  • Create a timeline
  • Take photos (when safe to do so) with date and time stamps visible on the photo
  • Keep all records, phone, text, voicemail, and social media messages/posts, in a safe place
  • Try to ensure all documentation has date and time stamps visible

If I know about elder abuse, who do I contact?

Contact Adult Protective Services or law enforcement. While the roles, responsibilities, and philosophies of Adult Protective Services and law enforcement in conducting investigations are different, the two groups can be a complementary and valuable resource to one another.

The Role of Adult Protective Services The role of Adult Protective Services (APS) is to protect the elderly and persons 18 and older with disabilities who have been abused, neglected, and/or financially exploited or who are at risk of being abused, neglected, or exploited. APS receives and investigates complaints of abuse, and offers and provides services to prevent further abuse, including healthcare, housing, social, and legal services. The APS philosophy stresses self-determination and the use of the least restrictive and least intrusive interventions. APS cannot force services upon clients and has no authority to take an endangered adult into custody or to investigate when the client is no longer at risk. If the client has the capacity to make decisions, APS must honor the adult's wishes. APS views abuse as a social problem. Legal action (e.g., involuntary protective services) is a last resort.
The Role of Law Enforcement While the role of APS is to conduct an investigation of an alleged case of abuse and to offer services to end the abuse and prevent further abuse from occurring, the role of law enforcement is to determine if a crime has been committed and make an arrest. Law enforcement officers conduct a complete investigation when an alleged crime is reported, to determine if indeed a crime has been committed and if there is enough evidence to file criminal charges and build a case for prosecution. Police detectives collect statements of the victims and all witnesses, document spontaneous statements when they occur, collect physical evidence, photograph the victim and crime scene, and identify, locate, and arrest the alleged perpetrator.
Please visit the Ohio Attorney's General's "Services for Seniors" Page or www.elder.findlaw.com for more information on this subject.

Marsy’s Law