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Learn your rights: Crime victim's clinic to be held at LAPD headquarters

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 07:59AM
Flickr via Valerita

The crime victim's clinic will be held at the LAPD Downtown headquarters.

This Saturday, Justice for Homicide Victims (JHV) and Justice for Murdered Children (JMC), along with the LAPD, are putting on a four-hour victim's rights clinic at the Downtown police headquarters. This workshop is held twice a year and aims to educate the public on their legal rights if they become a victim of a crime.

The definition of a crime victim is broader than the person who directly suffers harm; it encompasses the victim's spouse, parents, children, siblings or guardian, and under Marsy's Law, all of these people are entitled to 17 California constitutional rights.

Jeanette Chavez is the chairman of JHV. Her 16-year-old daughter was murdered in 2008 and since then, she's stumbled through court trials and uncomfortable run-ins with the defendant's family as she grappled with the death of her daughter.

Now, Chavez is working to ensure others don't have to cope with the same issues.

"When you have no guidance you feel so lost," she said. "You feel so helpless."

According to Chavez, Marsy's Law was created in 2008 after a California woman, Marcella Leach, ran into her daughter's murderer at the neighborhood supermarket. He had been released on bail for nearly 2-years between the murder and the trial.

Within the law is a 17-point list known as the Victim's Bill of Rights. Included in these rights is the right to "Information about conviction, sentence, incarceration, release and escape" - meaning victims have access to information about the defendant and will be informed if there is a change in the defendants status.

Victims also have the right to "Protection from the Defendant"- a point that hits home especially hard with Chavez.

Chavez said she sat next to the defendant's family during the trial; she heard the family "making fun of her" and using "harsh words."

"Families can be really cruel," she said. "It's all about respecting peoples privacy, and no family should ever have to go through what I went to."

The bill of rights also includes the right to "Notice of and presence at public proceedings," requiring victims to be kept in the loop on when and where important court dates are occurring.

Saturday's event will include guest speakers such as L.A. Chief of Police Charlie Beck and L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who will discuss how the city is involved with victim's rights on the legislative and enforcement levels.

For more information about the event contact Justice for Homicide Victims

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