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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: The Legal Corner: The rights of victims of crime

April 20, 2010

Recently, several frustrated individuals have asked me about what rights they have as victims of crime. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about the rights of criminal victims. This article is an updated version of my previous article informing criminal victims of their rights in the State of New Hampshire.
Between 1960 and 1990, many judges wrote decisions which expanded the rights of criminal defendants. While their decisions were written with good intentions (i.e. to support a defendants constitutional right to a defend him/herself), rights were expanded to such a degree that many cases resulted in bizarre and distressing conclusions where an obviously guilty defendant was not convicted because of a legal technicality. Moreover, victims of crime were given no voice in the process. So, while criminal defendants were able to vigorously defend themselves from prosecution, victims were often forgotten in the process.
As a prosecutor 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 the community as a whole when they experienced the absurdity and injustice of how a victim was treated within our justice system. Fortunately, New Hampshire (and most other states) has made great strides in providing rights for victims of crimes since the early 1990’s.
New Hampshire has 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.

Moreover, 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