HOW A COURT ADVOCATE CAN SUPPORT YOU
Article reprinted from Charles R. Ullman & Associates, Attorneys at Law
Domestic violence is wrong, illegal and something you should never have to endure. However, we understand that it is very difficult for victims of domestic violence to take action against their abusers. Fear, financial worries, concerns about children and family relationships and confusion and worry about the legal process are just some of the many obstacles that you face when charges are filed against your abuser.
Taking legal action and moving forward takes a lot of courage. You need to have an advocate by your side. Fortunately, there are court advocates at every domestic violence agency in North Carolina that receives funding from the Council for Women. These agencies can offer you the assistance of a court advocate free of charge.
A court advocate can be available to you at any time during the process of dealing with a domestic violence situation. Whether you want help at the hospital to tell someone what happened, need assistance reporting the crime to the police or want assistance throughout a criminal trial, a court advocate can be there for you.
Some of the different services that a court advocate can offer you include:
- Providing you with emotional support.
- Providing support to family and friends, helping them through the process and assisting them in helping you.
- Listening to your story and providing information about your legal rights and the options available to you.
- Helping you to get in touch with the police and the proper legal authorities.
- Answering your questions about the laws related to sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and other crimes you may have been the victim of.
- Facilitating communication between you, the prosecutors, the police and others within the court system.
- Going with you to court, to the police station or to visit the prosecutor.
- Assisting you in writing a victim impact statement that is given at the sentencing phase of a trial.
- Working with you to interact with the parole board if your abuser is up for parole.
- Assisting you in learning about and accessing help from victim assistance programs within the state.
- Providing you with help in finding housing, transportation, a domestic violence agency and an experienced domestic violence lawyer.
Advocates cannot give you legal advice. Only an attorney is qualified or permitted to give legal advice in North Carolina. They also cannot make choices on your behalf. However, they can support you and help you to become informed so that you can be empowered to take action.
Your court advocate will also respect your privacy. The advocate won’t release any information about you to anyone or take any action that you don’t know about first.
With the help of a court advocate, you can be better prepared to find a lawyer to protect you, answer questions in court, go through the criminal justice system and take advantage of the protections available to you in your state.
To find a court advocate in your area, check this list of federal and state resources for domestic violence victims. An attorney who represents victims of domestic violence can also help you to find an advocate who will be there to provide you with support in any actions you take against your abuser.