Crime Victims Bill of Rights
The State of Georgia recognizes a duty to victims injured as a result of criminal activity by requiring partnerships and services from public officers and employees throughout the criminal justice system. These public responsibilities are explained in the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights [O.C.G.A. 17-17-1 C16] and hinge on a victim's willingness to provide essential information throughout the justice process.
According to the Official Code of Georgia, Title 17, Chapter 17, victims of the following crimes receive benefits under the Crime Victims Bill of Rights:
- Assault and Battery
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment, and related offenses
- Reckless Conduct
- Cruelty to Children
- Stalking / Aggravated Stalking
- Sexual Offenses
- Armed Robbery
- Sexual Exploitation of a Child
- Homicide by Vehicle
- Feticide by Vehicle
- Serious Injury by Vehicle
If you are threatened or intimidated by an offender, please immediately contact the Sheriff's Office to make a report. For immediate assistance, dial 911.
In order for you to be notified of various proceedings, you must provide law enforcement with your address and home and work telephone numbers (not pagers or cellular telephones).
If your phone number changes from the number you first gave the police, you must notify the Victim Assistance Program, Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office and/or the State Court Solicitor's Office. If there is an arrest, you can be informed of criminal proceedings.
If the defendant (accused) is convicted and sent to prison and you want to be notified of parole or want to express your opinions prior to a parole decision, you must contact the Board of Pardons and Parole in Atlanta. Also, if the defendant is sentenced to prison and you want to know of any change in his/her status while in prison (such as furlough, work release, escape), contact the Department of Corrections in Atlanta. The Victim Assistance Program can assist you with any of this communication.
Your Rights as a victim
In general, after the crime occurs and is reported, and upon initial contact with a victim, all law enforcement and court personnel must advise victims of the following:
- That it is possible that the accused may be released from custody prior to trial;
- That he or she has certain rights during various stages of the criminal justice system;
- That additional information about these stages can be obtained by contacting the pertinent state and/or local agency involved, or by contacting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council at 404/559-4949 or 404/559-4177 (TDD);
- That he or she may have available to them monetary compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of their victimization from the State’s Crime Victims Emergency Fund (Crime Victims Compensation) which is administered by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council;
- That he or he may have available to them community based victim service programs and that more information may be obtained by contacting the Governor’s Victim Assistance Helpline at 1-800-992-6745;
- and that he or she must meet any applicable aforementioned obligations, ie, providing a current telephone number and address in order to be contacted.
Victims of crimes further have the following rights:
- to be notified of each stage in the judicial process to include pretrial hearings, bond, arraignment, motions hearings, pleas of guilty, trial, sentencing and appeals;
- to be notified of the arrest, release, possibility of release, or escape of the accused or any change in custodial status;
- to give opinions regarding release from custody or bond issues;
- to a private waiting area during court proceedings;
- to offer input on plea negotiations or sentence hearings or conditions;
- to protection from intimidation and harm;
- to receive compensation and/or restitution when eligible.
The Victim Assistance Program in the Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office can inform you of your rights, assist you with any questions you may have or refer you to the appropriate agency for help. The hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The services are free.
For more information visit the Toombs Judicial Circuit website.