Every April, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. In recognition of this important week, Pro Bono Net is highlighting two collaborative programs that provide legal information and help to those who are victims of crimes in the state of New York.

The Importance of Victim’s Rights

People often have legal needs as a result of being a victim of crime. For many crime victims, the problems they face after a crime can be challenging, especially when they have several legal needs and are unsure where they can go for help.

“Too often, we see crime victims struggling to pull their lives together in the months and even years after they’ve been victimized,” – Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin

Having access to information, tools and resources can make all the difference in picking up the pieces and rebuilding their lives in the aftermath.

New York Crime Victims Legal Help

This October, the New York State Office of Victim Services announced a new website connecting crime victims with information and free civil legal assistance that is being piloted in three Western New York counties, allowing victims to learn about their rights and connect with resources or legal representation. New York Crime Victims Legal Help is an online resource that allows victims to learn about their rights and connect with resources and/or legal representation.

The website features a user-friendly screening tool that allows crime victims to identify what legal needs they may have and then locate relevant resources; a searchable legal service help directory with filters to isolate organizations that can assist with specific issues; a self-help resource library to inform them of their rights; and a live chat function to access referral information in real time. The Office of Victim Services partnered with Pro Bono Net, Empire Justice Center, and University at Albany’s Center for Human Services Research to create the website.

Family Offense Petition

A staggering number of Americans experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Hundreds of thousands of Family Offense Petitions are filed in New York State Courts each year by individuals seeking orders of protection. Domestic violence has serious ramifications and victims are in great need of advice and information to protect their safety.

Under the Family Offense Petition Program, individuals are assisted by advocates from Domestic Violence agencies to prepare the petition electronically and e-file it in any Family Court using our award-winning LawHelp Interactive document assembly technology. This allows clerks to quickly review the petitions so that survivors can go directly to see the judge/court referee, thus increasing the efficiency, accuracy, and pace of the filing process.