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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: Victims’ rights

August 13, 2008

Prior to the 1980’s, victims of violent crimes had few resources and little leverage within the criminal justice system. Criminal defendants had rights with which to vigorously defend themselves from prosecution, while victims were often forgotten in the process. As a prosecutor of violent juvenile crimes in the Bronx during the early to mid 1990’s, I saw how violent crimes damaged victims physically and mentally. I also observed how violent crimes gravely affected a victim’s entire family and community when they experienced the absurdity and injustice of how that victim was treated within our justice system. Fortunately, the federal government and most states have made great strides in providing rights for victims of crimes and in the fair treatment of victims during the criminal process.

Many states, including New Hampshire, have enacted a victim’s bill of rights to give a voice to victims within the legal process. New Hampshire’s victim’s bill of rights can be found at NHRSA 21-M:8-K, and is listed on the Attorney General’s website at http://doj.nh.gov/victim/victim.html. Among other things, the victim’s bill of rights provides for the right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal process, to be informed about all court proceedings, to be protected from the accused, the right to restitution (payment for monetary loss caused by the crime), and the right to confer with the prosecution throughout the process.

If you have been the victim of a crime, you should consider all of the resources that the state and the federal government have made available to you. For example, the New Hampshire Victims\' Assistance Commission helps innocent victims of violent crime with expenses directly related to crime injuries. Services are available to (1) any person who sustains physical and/or mental injuries in a crime that occurred in New Hampshire; (2) any person who sustains personal injury as a result of persons driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances in New Hampshire; (3) immediate family members of a homicide victim; and (4) New Hampshire residents injured by any of the above crimes in a state without a compensation program may also be eligible. There are some time limits and other restrictions for these services. For more information on the services available, contact the New Hampshire Victims\' Assistance Commission, Department of Justice, 33 Capitol Street, Concord, NH 03301-6397, 1-800-300-4500 (in NH only) or (603) 271-1284.

Few have ever disputed the right of an accused to a vigorous defense in a court of law. However, all too often, the rights of criminal defendants greatly overshadowed the few rights that victims had. Only fairly recently has the court system provided victims the right to be heard within the process. Even now, many victims are not aware of the vast resources available to them within the process. If you or someone that you know has been a victim of a crime, you should avail yourself of these resources. Our justice system remains imperfect, but it has made great strides in recognizing the pain and anguish faced by victims of violent crimes.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay