Crime Victims and Witnesses

VICTIM RIGHTS AND SERVICES

Under the Maryland Constitution and under State laws and guidelines, a victim of crime must be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity during all phases of the criminal justice process. After a crime has been committed, and throughout the criminal justice process, different rights and services apply to specific victims.

 

AFTER YOU REPORT A CRIME

If the police arrest a suspect, they will take him before a Court Commissioner.  Information regarding your case will also be provided to the local prosecutor, also called the State's Attorney.

The Court Commissioner will decide if there is enough evidence - known as "probable cause" - to charge the suspect with the crime, and if so, on what conditions the suspect could be released until a hearing before a judge.

If the suspect is held in custody after the Commissioner hearing, he will be entitled to a bail hearing before a judge. The judge will then decide whether to release the suspect, perhaps with certain conditions, or to keep him in jail until a trial is held. A defendant can only be detained if the facts show he is a danger to the community and/or there is a risk that he will not show up at the trial. Most suspects are released.

The prosecutor will review the information provided by the police and determine what charges, if any, should be filed against the suspect in District Court or Circuit Court. In more serious cases, the prosecutor may use a Grand Jury to make these decisions.

In serious cases a suspect has the right to ask the judge for a Preliminary Hearing. At this hearing the judge will decide if there is enough evidence or "probable cause" to continue with the charges against the suspect.

If the prosecutor proceeds with the case, a trial will be set by the court. Due to crowded court dockets, the case may take several months to come to trial. The prosecutor will notify the victim and key witnesses if and when it is time to prepare for trial.

YOUR RIGHTS BEFORE THE TRIAL

Once a suspect (now called the defendant) has been charged with a crime, the defendant's attorney will try to discover information to help prepare the case before trial. The attorney will probably ask for, and generally receive, your name and address. However, you are not required to talk to the defendant's attorney or his representative.

If a defendant threatens you, or interferes with you in any way, do not hesitate to call the police. If you are acting as a witness for the prosecution and your safety has been threatened as a result, contact the State's Attorney immediately. It is a crime for the defendant to do anything to stop you from testifying at the trial. Victim/Witness Protection Resources may be available to increase your protection and enable your participation in court proceedings.

Before the trial, the defendant may appear at various court hearings. As a victim, you have the right to attend these hearings, the trial, and any related hearings or proceedings. You may ask the prosecutor to notify you of any appearance that you should attend. Often the judge may grant several "continuances" or delays, at the request of the defense or the prosecution. Even though delays and continuances are frustrating, it is important that you continue to appear in court when you are requested.

DURING THE TRIAL

A victim has the right to be present at the trial. A victim can request that his address and phone number remain confidential, and not be listed in the court records. The prosecutor can help you prepare for the trial by telling you what questions to expect the defendant's attorney may ask.

AFTER THE TRIAL

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will hold a sentencing hearing, often at a later date. The judge has several sentencing options including: confinement in a prison or jail, probation, payment of fines or restitution, or any combination of these options.

Probation is the most frequently imposed sentence. Probation means that a convicted offender will be released and may be under the supervision of a probation officer. Probation often includes special conditions such as drug testing.

In every case resulting in serious physical injury or death, a victim or the victim's representative may address the court to describe the impact of the crime. The court must also consider a victim's written impact statement describing the effects of the crime on the victim.

A victim also has the right to request restitution. The State's Attorney will help you make this request to the judge.

AFTER SENTENCING

After the trial is over, a victim may have the right to have stolen or other property returned. The State's Attorney will help you retrieve your property.

Finally, a victim has the right to be notified of any further hearings related to the defendant's sentence or release by the Division of Correction, Patuxent Institution, or the Parole Commission. The State's Attorney will see that your request to be notified is forwarded to the right place for future contact.

HELP THROUGHOUT THE JUSTICE PROCESS

Throughout the criminal justice process, and even after it has been completed, you may experience physical, emotional, or psychological distress as a result of your victimization. This may be normal, and help is available. Please see the resources listed at the end of this page to find support in your local community.

 

CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION BOARD

Overview

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) was established to provide financial assistance to Maryland crime victims when no other resources are available. Victims of crime are eligible to be reimbursed for their medical and/or funeral expenses resulting from a crime under the following conditions:

Who May Apply?

  • Crime victims, or their parents or guardians on their behalf, or
  • Dependents of victims who died as a result of a crime, or
  • Persons who paid the funeral expenses of a victim who died as a direct result of a crime, or
  • Persons injured while preventing a crime or assisting a police officer.
  • Persons injured or killed as a result of an individual driving while intoxicated

 

What is Required?

  • A crime report to police within 48 hours of the crime.
  • A completed claim form sent to the CIBI within 180 days of the crime.
  • Physical injury or death directly related to the crime.
  • Innocence of the victim: that is, the victim bears no responsibility for the crime or the injury.
  • Serious financial hardship resulting from the crime.
Further Information and Assistance in Filing -- Call or Write:

 

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
Suite 3112, Plaza Office Center
6776 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21215-2340
(410) 764-4214    TTY: (410) 486-0677

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

When a loved one hurts you, it can be embarrassing, confusing, and sometimes life-threatening. No one has the right to hurt you or your children - even a family member. Getting help is the first step toward a safe future. This section gives you information on special rights and resources available for victims of domestic violence and/or stalking.

Special Rights Available to Victims

In Maryland, the police may make an arrest for an incident of domestic violence without witnessing the assault if they have "probable cause" to believe that an assault took place. Officers must make an arrest if an offender is in violation of the "stay away" or "don't abuse" provision of a Civil Protective Order.

If an arrest is not made at the scene, a domestic violence victim may: (1) make application with a District Court Commissioner to file criminal charges or (2) request that the State's Attorney file a criminal charge.

A victim of domestic violence may receive, upon request and without cost, a copy of the incident report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the call.

A domestic violence victim may also request a "domestic stand-by" from an officer to ensure that she is safe while removing personal items to meet her emergency needs or those of any children in her care.

Other Legal Remedies

In addition to arrest and criminal charges, victims of domestic violence who are married, have lived together for 90 days in the past year, or have a child in common, can apply for a "Civil Protective Order." This is a court order instructing the abuser to stop the abuse, leave the joint residence, stay away from your work, or other remedies ordered by the court. A person may apply for a Protective Order at the District or Circuit Court. This order may be for the victim or on behalf of a family member, such as a child.

Services Available

Domestic violence is a complex crime that usually becomes more frequent and more severe without outside help. If you have been harmed by an intimate partner, it is important that you contact a local domestic violence program legal service a link is listed at the end of this page to help you understand how it has affected your life, and how to get the support and advocacy you need to live in safety again.

Protection From Stalking

Maryland offers special protections for victims of stalking. Stalking is malicious conduct, and includes persistently approaching or pursuing another person with the intent to place them in fear of injury or death.

If you think that you are a victim of stalking, tell the police when they make an arrest, and/or immediately call the Court Commissioner to let them know that you may be a victim of stalking and are afraid for your safety. The Court Commissioner shall consider a stalking victim's safety when deciding to release a defendant on pretrial release.

For more information related to domestic violence click here.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Sexual assault and rape are violent crimes that often leave victims feeling alone and frightened. Crimes of sexual violence are even more painful because victims must discuss very intimate details of the crime. Knowing what may happen ahead of time can reduce your anxiety and help you get through the process more comfortably. The most commonly asked questions are answered below.

Who Will Pay For My Medical Expenses?

A rape or sexual assault victim shall be examined without charge and the hospital and physician are entitled to be paid by the Department of Health. You or your insurance company will be responsible for any other medical treatment you receive. You may be eligible for compensation for expenses not covered by insurance. (See the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board)

Is There Mandatory Testing of the Offender for the HIV Virus?

Upon written request to the State's Attorney, a victim of a crime involving a sexual offense, or other crime that may have caused or resulted in the exposure of the HIV virus, may ask the court to order the accused to be tested for HIV. If you are afraid that you were exposed to this virus, talk to the State's Attorney and/or your local sexual assault counselor for guidance in your situation.

How Much of My Personal History Will Be Made Public in a Trial?

Evidence relating to a victim's prior sexual conduct can seldom be admitted as evidence. This issue varies depending on the circumstances of your case. If you are worried about this, talk to a sexual assault advocate or the Victim/Witness Coordinator in your State's Attorney's Office.

Can I Recover From This Violent Assault?

Sexual assault is a life-threatening experience and may result in extreme and long lasting trauma to the victim. The physical and emotional results of this trauma generally come in three stages; however, the effects of the assault are different for each victim.

  • The Acute Reaction usually occurs immediately; the most common signs of this stage are shock, disbelief, fear, anger, helplessness, mood swings, and eating or sleeping disturbances.
  • The next stage is often the Outward Adjustment. This can be a temporary period where the victim reports that everything is back to normal and tries to regain control over personal feelings and life situations.
  • The Integration stage most often begins with depression, followed by a renewal of Acute Reaction symptoms. The victim may become overwhelmed by the assault, make drastic life changes, and may also experience guilt.
Eventually, with the necessary emotional support, a survivor of sexual violence can work through the trauma and move past the experience and fear generated by the assault.

If you have experienced a rape or sexual assault, contact the Sexual Assault Center listed at the bottom of this page and ask for the emotional support and legal advocacy that you need to heal and recover from this crime.

EXERCISING YOUR VICTIM RIGHTS IN MARYLAND

Justice System Events

Your rights

Take Action

1)  Contact Law Enforcement Officials to Report the Incident.

Crime Victims and Witnesses: Your Rights and Services [brochure] is given to you by the responding law enforcement official, as well as information on protection available.

File for a Protective or Peace Order, seek Crisis Intervention Services, apply for Criminal Injuries Compensation, and subscribe to VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday).

2)  Crime Report is Investigated
by Law Enforcement.

In the event of an arrest you are informed.

 

 

3)  Your case is forwarded to the State's Attorney's Office for prosecution

 

 

4)  Prosecution of Case By State's Attorney's Office Begins.

  • Crime Victim Notification Request and Demand for Rights Form is given to you by State's Attorney's Office within 10 days of criminal indictment/bill of information.
  • You are given prior notice of any court proceedings. (Notice is sent to you by the State's Attorney's Office.)
  • Your Rights as a Victim in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Process [brochure] is distributed to you by State's Attorney's Office within 10 days of criminal indictment/bill of information.

 

5)  Case Proceeds to Trial/Plea.

State's Attorney's Office notifies you of court proceedings.

 

 

6)  Sentencing Hearing
Prior to sentencing the Court considers the victim impact statement.

  • You are notified of your right to submit a Victim Impact Statement and seek Restitution.
  • You are informed of judicial action taken as a result of court proceedings. (Informed by State's Attorney's Office.)

7)  Post Sentencing Proceedings
If appealed, Attorney General's Office notifies victim of Appellate proceedings

  • You are informed by State's Attorney's Office of post-sentence court proceedings such as modifications, probation hearings, review of sentence or that an appeal has been filed.
  • You will be notified by the Attorney General's Office of Court of Special Appeals or Court of Appeals proceedings

Exercise your right to be present and/or heard.

88 8) Parole Activity.
Parole hearings, eligibility or release.

You are informed by Parole Commission of parole eligibility status, parole hearings, your right to request an open hearing, and commission decisions.

Exercise your right to be present and/or heard.

9)  Violation of Parole/Probation.
Warrant/subpoena issued for arrest of parolee or probationer.

  • You are informed if a warrant/subpoena has been issued for alleged violation of parole or probation.
  • You are informed of outcome upon completion of violation hearings.

You are informed by Division of Parole & Probation or Department of Juvenile Services.

 

10) Inmate Status at Correctional Facility.

You are informed if the inmate escapes, is transferred to another correctional facility, is released or dies while incarcerated. You are informed by Correctional Facility

 

 

PROTECTION BY PEACE ORDER

If you have a legitimate reason to fear bodily harm from an act committed by someone other than your spouse; a person that you have had a long-term relationship with, or someone with whom you have a child, you may seek relief by obtaining a "peace order."

Please be advised that a domestic incident of this nature may be addressed by obtaining an ex-parte/protection order.

The acts must have occurred in the previous 30 days and include: an act that causes serious bodily harm; places you in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; assault in any degree; rape or sexual offense; false imprisonment; harassment; stalking; trespassing or destruction of property.

The peace order will be granted if the court finds clear and convincing evidence that the accused committed and is likely to commit acts against you in the future. If the court finds reasonable grounds to issue a temporary peace order, the accused may be ordered to refrain from committing the acts; contacting or attempting to contact or harass you, and stay away from your residence, workplace or school.

TO APPLY YOU MUST:

  • File an application for petition at the District Court;
  • Swear under oath before a Judge to the acts being alleged in support of the peace order; and
  • Pay a $20 (non-refundable) filing fee.

IF GRANTED:

  • Pay $30 to have the order served;
  • The order will be temporary for 7 days until a hearing is scheduled; and
  • May be extended up to 6 months after the hearing.
A VIOLATION OF THE PEACE ORDER OR TEMPORARY PEACE ORDER IS PUNISHABLE BY COMTEMPT, CRIMINAL PROSECTION OR BOTH.

FORMS:

GENERAL VICTIM SERVICES AND REFERRAL

Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation - 301.952.0063
First Call For Help - 1.800.492.0618
Toll Free - 1-877.VICTIM1

CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION BOARD

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board - 410.858.3010

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Mayland Network Against Domestic Violence - 1.800.634.3577
YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (Counseling) - 410.974.0084
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1.800.799.7233

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Rape, Abuse, and incest Network - 1.800.656.4673
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault - 1.800.841.6599
Anne Arundel County Sexual Assault Crisis Center and Hotline - 410.222.7233
Sexual Trauma, Treatment, Advocacy and recovery Center - 410.920.6432

CHILD ABUSE SERVICES

Prevent Child Abuse Maryland - 1.800.244.5373
Anne Arundel County Child Welfare Investigations - 410.269.4700


DRUNK DRIVING SERVICES

Mothers Against Drunk Driving - 1.800.466.6233


STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

Anne Arundel County - 410.222.1740


VICTIM SERVICES UNIT

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Victim/Witness Unit - 410.222.1160
Anne Arundel County District Court Annapolis - 410.260.1339
Juvenile Victim Assistance Unit - 410.222.8621
Annapolis Police Department - 410.268.9000 ext. 7304


National Victim Notification Network