Benefits to Victims from Hiring an Attorney

June 8, 2017
Benefits to Victims from Hiring an Attorney

Written by: Staff Attorney Kathryn L. Miller and Law Clerk Eliut Ocasio Justus

One of the primary functions of the Center for Victim and Human Rights is to provide legal assistance to victims. Often, victims want to pursue legal remedies, but feel intimidated by the legal system and their abusers. Below are reasons why victims may benefit from hiring an attorney.

Abusers often use the legal system to continue abuse

Abusers often continue abuse in court by intimidating and manipulating victims. Abusers generally hold the power in relationships and may be the sole or main financial providers. Many times, abusers can afford attorneys while victims cannot. Without the support of an attorney, victims can be intimidated and manipulated by the abuser in civil cases such as protection orders, divorce or paternity cases, and civil lawsuits.

Prosecutors do not represent victims

Prosecutors in criminal cases represent the state, not the victim. At most, the victim is a witness in criminal cases and can provide input into potential sentencing. Victim advocates work with Prosecutors to provide victims with guidance, but an attorney representing the victim can assist the victim with additional civil remedies, if appropriate or desired by the victim.

The law is complicated

Many people have had very little interaction with the legal system and often don’t know what evidence they need to prove their case. The law is constantly changing and there are rules of the legal system and courts that must be followed. A victim is often so traumatized, and the legal system so intimidating, that it may feel almost impossible for them to navigate alone. Attorneys make sure they are up-to-date on the law and legal processes. When a victim hires an attorney, he or she has the attorney’s knowledge and experience at their disposal.

An attorney stands between the victim and the abuser

Finally, an attorney looks out for their client’s interests. Many cases involve high levels of emotion, and it may be hard for emotionally-invested parties to view the matter objectively. When victims hire an attorney, a third-party individual without an emotional connection to the case is representing the victim’s interests. Free from personal involvement, attorneys can help negotiate settlements, working with the other side to bring about a speedy conclusion, sometimes without a court hearing. Should a case go to hearing, the attorney is there to stand between the victim and the abuser to limit communication between the parties and make sure the victim is not intimidated or manipulated.

In the end, whether a victim is feeling intimidated or not, they may benefit from hiring an attorney to help preserve their rights. An attorney will be there for the victim to make sure their voice is heard.