Domestic Violence Victim Representation

Understanding the nature of your legal problem is critical to avoiding mistakes early in your case. Please review the Quick Info for Domestic Violence Protection Orders page which includes the Who, What, When, Where and How.

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Understanding Domestic Violence Victim Representation

A victim of domestic violence is not represented by the prosecutor or by the prosecutor’s victim’s advocate. If a victim of domestic violence does not wish for prosecution to proceed, the prosecutor does not have to follow the victim’s wishes. If a victim of domestic violence does not want a no contact order, the prosecutor does not have to follow the victim’s wishes. The victim’s advocate may not advocate for a victim’s desires in all circumstances.

The Legal System

The prosecutor represents that city or county that is bringing the charges. The prosecutor’s interests are in offender accountability, victim and community safety. In many instances, the prosecutor will have concerns or interests that a victim may not have regarding victim safety or offender accountability. This does not mean that the prosecutor will not listen to a victim. However, a victim may feel that to be truly heard or to have his/her wishes acted upon may take the assistance of someone who works within the domestic violence system and talks to domestic violence prosecutors every day.

In some circumstances the prosecutor and victim advocate may proceed exactly how a victim would like for them to proceed, but the victim does not feel adequately protected by the steps taken by the prosecutor. For example, there may be time limits to the length of the no contact order sought by the prosecutor. In these circumstances, the victim may wish to seek a civil domestic violence protection order and seek a longer term of protection. In those proceedings, the defendant may appear and contest the issuance of the order and a victim may wish to have counsel speaking and advocating for his or her interests.

Sometimes a victim simply wants their own independent advisor regarding the legal proceedings surrounding him or her. Again, the prosecutor and victim’s advocate serve a role that is not the same as having an advisor and advocate that has 100% loyalty to only to the victim and his or her wishes and needs.