Victim & Witness Representation
You may be confident that you will never need the help of a criminal attorney, as you are a law-abiding individual and would never be inclined to engage in a criminal act. Unfortunately, you may find yourself in need of a criminal defense attorney even if you have never committed a crime. It can be a shocking and terrifying situation to witness a crime or be the victim of a crime. In these cases, it is often beneficial, or even necessary, to engage legal counsel to protect your rights and interests. At Hickey & Chung LLC in San Francisco, we represent victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes in the Bay Area.
Why do you need a lawyer?
If you have witnessed a crime, you will be subjected to questioning by law enforcement. You may not be thoroughly advised about the legal issues you could encounter as a witness. You may be put on the stand and be subjected to aggressive questioning by defense counsel. Some witnesses experience very distressing situations such as harassment or threats. Your attorney can manage issues such as dealing with the press or taking action to protect you if you are facing threats, attacks on social media, by phone, or other issues.
Crime victim representation
A victim of a crime should be treated fairly. Unfortunately, a crime victim may be put in a very stressful situation, subjected to an investigation in an attempt to discredit the facts presented by the prosecuting attorney. Cases of domestic violence are an example: your reputation and your testimony may be attacked in court in an attempt to prove that you are exaggerating, lying, or seeking retribution. It is very important that you have your own attorney to help you navigate a range of difficult legal situations faced by crime victims, whether in cases of domestic violence or other offenses.
The rights of crime victims
Victims of crimes are often required to testify in court, whether state or federal. The justice system relies on the honesty of witnesses in getting to the truth. Crime victims have rights in federal court, including:
- The right to be treated with fairness, respect, dignity, and privacy
- The right to a reasonable degree of protection from the offender
- The right to be informed by notice of any pending court proceedings related to the crime
- The right to be present at these proceedings in most cases
- The right to confer with the prosecutor in the case
- The right to seek restitution
- The right to be informed regarding the case, including a conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the perpetrator of the crime
California also has a Victims’ Bill of Rights. These rights were expanded under Marsy’s Law, in the California Constitution Article 1, § 28, which states:
- To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
- To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
- To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
- To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
- To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
- To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
- To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
- To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
- To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
- To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
- To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
- To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
- To restitution.
- It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.
- Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss.
- All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.
- To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.
- To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.
- To have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.
- To be informed of the rights enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (16).:
Our attorney team at Hickey & Chung, LLC will zealously protect your rights under the state constitution and can assist you with the process of seeking restitution.
Why choose us?
A witness to a crime or a crime victim not only suffers the consequences of the experience but is subjected to further stress and anxiety due to court appearances, concerns about the potential of retribution, and a range of other concerns. With the help of our skilled lawyers at Hickey & Chung LLC, your rights and interests will be protected throughout every phase of the process.
We are skilled, passionate, and effective. We help navigate the range of issues that arise for victims of crime and those who have witnessed a crime. Attorney Brendan Hickey is a Harvard graduate and a former federal defender, and Naomi Chung is a celebrated trial lawyer who was recently listed in SuperLawyers Rising Stars. We care about our clients and will do everything possible to protect your rights and interests throughout the proceedings.