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As a victim of crime, you have certain obligations and legal rights. That does not mean that you can personally press charges -- a common misconception -- but you are expected to do certain things to help the prosecution of the matter. You are also entitled to know certain things about the case if you keep the state informed of your whereabouts.
State laws vary but all states do have the obligations and rights of victims outlined. Let's take a look at an example for a better sense of what you can generally expect.
While every state has different statutes, the information listed here is generally applicable. Wherever you are, if you have been the victim of a crime, you will have to take the time to do certain things if you want the perpetrator to face consequences. According to the California Bar Association website, the victim of a crime should first do the following things:
What happens next depends on many factors. Assuming that the prosecution is going forward with the case, then you will have to make yourself available as a witness and your cooperation will be key to a successful prosecution, and in collecting restitution if applicable.
Just remember, a criminal prosecution is not "your case." It is the defendant's ... and for that you can be grateful.
If you were the victim of a crime -- or have been accused of committing one -- and want to find out more about criminal procedure, speak to a lawyer. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk to you.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.