Victims' Rights: Overview
A crime victim is anyone who has been harmed as a result of a crime. The harm can be physical, emotional, or economic. Family members are also considered crime victims when a person is killed as a result of the crime or is unable to work or function as they used to.
Even if you did not report the crime, you are still a crime victim and may receive legal and supportive services. However, you may be able to receive additional services, such as crime victim compensation, if you report the crime to law enforcement.
Types of Crimes
What are the different types of crimes?
Crimes can be violent or non-violent.
In a violent crime, a person uses or threatens to use force against another person. Examples include punching someone, using a weapon like a gun or knife, murder, or rape.
Non-violent crimes do not involve the use of force. Examples include stealing another person’s money, belongings, or identity.
There are also different groups of victims or victimizations based on the crimes experienced, for example, domestic violence, stalking , sexual assault, or elder abuse.
Not sure of whether a crime has happened to you? Our checklist may help you identify if you are a crime victim.
Your Rights as a Crime Victim
Do I have rights as a crime victim?
You might not realize it, but as a victim of crime you have a number of rights within the criminal justice system.
Below are some of your rights as a crime victim in the New York state criminal justice system.
You can find more information in this Victim Rights Guide (PDF).
You have the right to ask for crime victim compensation
There are also other ways you may be paid back for your losses:
- You can file a civil lawsuit against your offender.
- If the crime happened while you were working, you may be able to get workers’ compensation benefits.
- If the crime is related to a vehicle, you may be able to get benefits under a car insurance policy.
- You may be able to get benefits from other sources such as homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, veteran’s benefits, or social security benefits.
You have the right to be notified of criminal proceedings
This means, you have the right to know when the offender:
- is arrested
- first appears before a judge
- enters a guilty plea
- goes to trial
- is sentenced, and how long they are sentenced to prison
You have rights during the criminal court case
Some of these rights include:
- The right in certain felony offenses (serious criminal cases where the offender can be imprisoned for more than 1 year) to talk with the District Attorney about possible outcomes of the case.
- The right to ask help from law enforcement and the District Attorney to let your employers know that you need to take time off from work to help with the criminal case.
You have the right to be protected from threats, physical injury, or other kinds of intimidation
You may have the right to a criminal Order of Protection.
You have the right to submit a “victim impact statement” in certain criminal cases
The victim impact statement is your chance to say what happened to you, how the crime affected your life and the lives of people you love.
You have the right to be notified if the person who committed the crime is released or escapes from custody
New York State Victim Information and Notification Everyday, VINE, can provide crime victims with information by phone, email, or TTY, about the status of the criminal offender. You can also be notified by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).
You have the right in criminal cases to request restitution
(See Restitution tab in this section for more information)
Victims of crime in New York State also have these rights
- You have the right to get a free copy of the police report of the crime.
- You have the right to have your belongings returned quickly.
- You have the right to ask that your stolen or destroyed driver’s license, permit, registration or license plate be replaced for free.
- You have the right not to lose your job if you have to meet with prosecutors or appear in criminal court.
- If you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or a child victim of crime you have additional rights.
If you are a crime victim in the federal criminal justice system, you also have rights under United States law.
Crime Victim Compensation
What is crime victim compensation?
One of the rights that some crime victims have is the right to ask for “crime victim compensation.”
Crime victim compensation is a government program to pay back victims of crimes and their families for some of their expenses that resulted from being a crime victim. Compensation is not the same as restitution. Compensation is only paid after all other resources (e.g., insurance, workers’ compensation) are exhausted.
If you are a victim of crime, you may have many costs related to the crime and your recovery. Dealing with medical and mental health care costs, lost income, and repairing or replacing damaged or lost property can be overwhelming. Crime victim compensation may be able to help you with these financial matters when you cannot get repaid any other way.
What kind of expenses can crime victim compensation help me with?
Some of the expenses that may be covered include:
- Your medical and counseling expenses.
- Up to $500 for your lost or damaged personal property that is essential for your health and welfare, such as eyeglasses, cash (up to $100) and clothes.
- Your transportation costs for necessary court appearances related to prosecution..
- Your occupational or vocational rehabilitation expenses.
- Up to $2,500 for moving expenses.
- Up to $30,000 for lost wages, loss of support or loss of savings.
The Every Crime Victim Matters brochure by OVS offers information on victim compensation.
Do I have the right to crime victim compensation?
You may have the right to crime victim compensation if:
- You were physically injured as a result of the crime.
- If you are under the age of 18, 60 or older, or are disabled, even if you were not physically injured in the crime.
- You are an innocent victim of crime. This means, if your behavior helped cause your injuries, you may not get crime victims compensation.
- You are a victim of certain kinds of stalking or domestic violence crimes.
- You are a victim of labor or sex trafficking.
- You report the crime to the police or another criminal justice agency within one week.
- You file a claim within one year of the crime.
Go to the eligibility section of the Victim Compensation Guide to find out more.
How do I apply for crime victim compensation?
To apply for crime victim compensation online, visit the New York State Office of Victim Services website.
You can go to our Victim Compensation Guide for help in applying online.
What is restitution?
Restitution is payment for losses from injuries and damages that you suffered as a result of the crime. The person who committed the crime against you pays you restitution as part of their criminal sentence. Restitution is not the same as compensation.
Restitution may include repayment of medical bills, counseling expenses, loss of earnings, replacement of stolen or damaged property, and expenses related to the crime such as changing locks.
Any victim of crime who has suffered injuries or incurred expenses can ask for restitution as part of the criminal case.
How do I get restitution?
Talk to the prosecutor in your criminal case about getting restitution as soon as you can. They will need information about your injuries and all your expenses.
Visit NY Courts for more information on restitution.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Recently, New York State moved to “presumptive ADR” in civil law cases. This means that many legal matters such as family law cases, landlord-tenant issues, and disagreements involving money may first be directed to ADR to see if they can be resolved by the parties. The goal of presumptive ADR is to change the way problems are handled in the legal system
In this section, you will find information and resources about presumptive ADR and mediation.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
ADR is another way of dealing with conflicts and disagreements. Most legal matters are handled through the formal court process (with judges, attorneys, formal rules of law, etc.). ADR is another way of settling your case without a trial or a judge deciding what happens. ADR includes mediation, case conferencing, neutral evaluations, and arbitration.
ADR is usually less stressful, less expensive, and problems are resolved faster. Also, people are usually more satisfied using ADR. This is because ADR gives you a chance to share how you feel and be more fully heard than the traditional court process.
What is Presumptive Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
Presumptive ADR is a way that cases are handled in court. It means that when you file a case with the court, it may first be referred to ADR instead of going directly to a judge. Presumptive ADR gives you a chance to settle the case through communication instead of through the formal court process.
What is mediation?
Mediation is when people discuss their problem and settle their disagreement with the help of a mediator. It is the most common type of ADR.
The mediator is a trained problem-solver. They do not take sides or decide what should happen with your problem. They help you communicate with the person you are having the legal problem with so that you both can discuss options and explore solutions.
Some things to know about mediation:
- Mediation is voluntary. It cannot happen unless you and the other person agree to it.
- What happens during mediation is confidential. This means the mediator cannot tell anyone else what is said during mediation.
- When you and the other person decide on a solution, the mediator can write the agreement for you.
I really wanted my day in court. Why should I agree to mediation?
You do have the right to have your case heard by a judge. But the traditional court process can be long and expensive. Also, the legal system is adversarial – one side against the other in a legal fight. And there is no guarantee that you will be happy with the judge’s decision.
In mediation, you get to decide what is important to talk about and have the chance to explain what you want and how you feel. Because mediation encourages communication, relationships can also improve. Most people are able to reach an agreement in mediation that they are happy with. If you are not able to reach an agreement, you have the option to proceed with court.
Below are some of the reasons why you may want to use mediation:
Developed by Bridget O’Connell, ADR Coordinator, NYS Unified Court System
What kinds of cases are mediated?
Mediation can be used to handle many different types of cases. These can include:
- Child custody, visitation, and support
- Landlord-tenant matters
- Workplace issues
- Small claims court matters
- Matters with neighbors or with the community
- Elder law matters
Mediation is NOT appropriate for cases where one person has significant power or control over the other person. This includes:
- Intimate partner violence
- Family violence
- Child abuse
Is mediation free?
Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRC) are funded by the NYS Unified Court System to provide free or low-cost mediation services. They can also provide interpreters for free.
How long is mediation?
It depends. Most people reach an agreement in one 2-hour mediation session.
Do I need a lawyer if I go to mediation?
You don’t need a lawyer when you go to mediation. But you may want to talk to a lawyer before you go to mediation to know your rights and what you are entitled to. You may also want to talk to a lawyer before you sign the written agreement.
Lawyers can attend mediation if both sides agree to this.
Do I have a right to say no to presumptive ADR?
Yes, you have the right to say no and opt-out of presumptive ADR.
I want to use mediation, but the other person doesn’t. What can I do?
No one can be forced into mediation. If you or the other person involved in the disagreement do not agree to mediation, then the matter proceeds formally in court.
But even if the other person doesn’t want to go to mediation, you can still go to a Community Dispute Resolution Center in your community for help. They can offer Conflict Coaching. This is a confidential meeting between you and a trained coach. The coach can help you in the following ways:
- Increase your understanding of the conflict or problems
- Learn some key communication skills
- Make decisions about future interactions with the person you are having problems with
Are agreements reached during mediation legally binding?
If you are referred to mediation from a court and reach an agreement, the mediator can write the agreement. When both sides sign the agreement and submit it to court, it becomes legally binding. That means it can be enforced by law.
What do I do if the agreement isn’t working?
If the agreement isn’t working or if things change, you can go back to mediation and revisit your agreement, or you can go back to court.
If you submitted a written agreement to court, it may say what happens if the agreement isn’t being followed.
Can I go to mediation without a court referral?
Yes, you can. You can contact a CDRC anytime you have a conflict or disagreement that you would like to resolve before filing a case in court.
You can find more information about Court Connected ADR Programs on the NY Courts website.
Developed with assistance from Gayle Murphya, Esq, Center for Resolution and Justice and Daniel Kos, NYS Unified Court System
Your Rights to Language Access
Scroll down to read in Spanish, Chinese, Burmese, Bengali, and Arabic
If you cannot speak, write, read, or understand English well, you may be “limited English proficient” or “LEP.” If you are LEP, you have the right to get help in your language so that you can get other services and help. This is called “language access.”
All federal agencies and organizations funded by the US government must get you help in your language. Also, every New York State agency that is open to the public must provide interpretation services at no cost to you.
Go to LawHelpNY to find information about Federal Language Access Rights.
Find additional information about Overcoming Language Barriers in New York State.
If you were not given language access, you have the right to make a complaint.
Sus derechos de acceso al idioma
Si no puede hablar, escribir, leer o entender bien inglés, puede que tenga un “dominio limitado del inglés”, o “LEP”. Si tiene LEP, tiene derecho a recibir ayuda en su idioma para obtener otros servicios y ayudas. A esto se le llama “acceso al idioma”.
Todas las agencias federales y las organizaciones financiadas por el gobierno de EE. UU. deben ofrecerle ayuda en su idioma. Además, todas las agencias del estado de Nueva York que están abiertas al público deben prestar servicios de interpretación gratis.
Visite LawHelpNY para obtener información sobre los derechos federales de acceso al idioma.
Encuentre más información sobre cómo superar las barreras del idioma en el estado de Nueva York.
Si no le dieron acceso al idioma, tiene derecho a presentar una queja.
如果您不能很好地听说读写或理解英语，您可能属于“英语能力有限”或“LEP”的人士。如果您是 LEP 的人士，您有权以您的语言获得帮助，以便获取其他服务和帮助。这被称为“语言使用权”。
请访问 LawHelpNY 以查找关于《联邦语言使用权》 的信息。
သင်၏ ဘာသာစကား အသုံးပြုခွင့်များ
သင်သည် အင်္ဂလိပ်ဘာသာစကားကို ပြောနိုင်ခြင်း၊ ရေးနိုင်ခြင်း၊ ဖတ်နိုင်ခြင်း၊ သို့မဟုတ် နားလည်ခြင်းမရှိပါက၊ သင်သည် “အကန့်အသတ်ရှိသော အင်္ဂလိပ်စာ ကျွမ်းကျင်မှု” သို့မဟုတ် “LEP” ဖြစ်နေနိုင်ပါသည်။ သင်က LEP ဆိုပါက၊ သင့်အနေဖြင့် အခြားဝန်ဆောင်မှုများနှင့် အကူအညီများ ရရှိနိုင်ရန်အတွက် သင့်ဘာသာစကားဖြင့် အကူအညီရယူပိုင်ခွင့် ရှိပါသည်။ ၎င်းကို “ဘာသာစကား အသုံးပြုခွင့်” ဟု ခေါ်ပါသည်။
US အစိုးရက ရန်ပုံငွေပံ့ပိုးပေးထားသော ဖက်ဒရယ်အေဂျင်စီများနှင့် အဖွဲ့အစည်းများအားလုံးသည် သင်၏ဘာသာစကားဖြင့် သင့်ကို အကူအညီပေးရပါမည်။ ထို့အတူ၊ အများပြည်သူအတွက် ဖွင့်လှစ်ပေးထားသော နယူးယောက်ပြည်နယ် အေဂျင်စီတိုင်းသည်လည်း သင့်အတွက် ကုန်ကျစရိတ်မရှိဘဲ စကားပြန်ဝန်ဆောင်မှုများကို ဖြည့်ဆည်းပေးရပါမည်။
ဖက်ဒရယ် ဘာသာစကားအသုံးပြုခွင့်များနှင့်ပတ်သက်သော အချက်အလက်များကို ရှာဖွေရန် LawHelpNY သို့သွားပါ။
နယူးယောက်ပြည်နယ်ရှိ ဘာသာစကား အတားအဆီးများကို ကျော်လွှားခြင်းနှင့်ပတ်သက်သည့် ထပ်ဆောင်းအချက်အလက်များကို ရှာဖွေပါ။
သင့်ကို ဘာသာစကားအသုံးပြုခွင့် မပေးထားပါက၊ သင့်တွင် တိုင်ကြားချက် တင်ပြပိုင်ခွင့် ရှိပါသည်။
আপনার ভাষাগত অধিকার
আপনি যদি ভালোভাবে ইংরাজী বলতে, লিখতে, পড়তে বা বুঝতে না পারেন, তাহলে আপনাকে “ইংরেজিতে সীমিত জ্ঞানসম্পন্ন” অথবা “LEP” হিসাবে গণ্য করা হবে। যদি আপনি LEP হন সেক্ষেত্রে আপনার নিজের ভাষায় সাহায্য পাওয়ার অধিকার আছে যাতে আপনি অন্যান্য পরিষেবা এবং সহায়তা পেতে পারেন। একে বলা হয় “ভাষাগত অধিকার”।
আমেরিকা সরকার দ্বারা আর্থিক সাহায্য প্রদান করা সকল ফেডারাল এজেন্সি ও সংস্থাকে অবশ্যই আপনার নিজের ভাষায় আপনাকে সাহায্য প্রদান করতে হবে। এছাড়াও, জনসাধারণের জন্য উন্মুক্ত প্রতিটি নিউ ইয়র্ক স্টেট এজেন্সিকে অবশ্যই আপনাকে বিনা খরচে অনুবাদ পরিষেবা প্রদান করতে হবে।
ফেডারাল ভাষাগত অধিকার সম্পর্কে তথ্য লাভ করতে LawHelpNY-এ যান।
নিউ ইয়ক স্টেটে ভাষাগত ব্যবধান দূর করা সম্পর্কে অতিরিক্ত তথ্য লাভ করুন।
যদি আপনাকে ভাষাগত অধিকার না দেওয়া হয়, সেক্ষেত্রে আপনার অভিযোগ করার অধিকার রয়েছে।
حقوقك للوصول إلى اللغة
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.إذا لم تحصل على حق الوصول إلى اللغة، لديك الحق في تقديم شكوى
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Need help understanding legal terms? Please see the NY Court Help Glossary.
Need help paying for food, housing utilities, or child care? Do you need help with healthcare, disability, vocational or other services?
Visit findservicesNY.gov or visit the NYS Social Programs website.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - confidential support for people in distress: Call or Text 988
Adult Protective Services:
The New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence:
- Text (844) 997-2121
- Call (800) 942-6906
National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- Call (888) 373-7888 (TTY: 711)
- Text 233733
LGBT National Hotline:
- Call (888) 843-4564