Crime Victims - Standing Committee
The Crime Victims Committee is a standing committee
of the State Bar of Texas. Its purpose is to educate the legal
and the public about legal and social resources available to crime
You will find a list of frequently asked questions and answers below.
to crime victim resources also follow.
Información en Español - Víctimas
de Crimen - Comité Permanente
Crime Victims Committee Presentations
Notice of Criminal Proceedings
Funding for Programs
Ten Minute Mentors
The Crime Victims Committee makes presentations to local bar
and attorney and judicial groups. The Committee's presentation
ethical obligations to crime victims has been approved by the State
of Texas Continuing Legal Education for ethics credit. If
please contact the State Bar's Committees
Coordinator at (512) 427-1516 or (800) 204-2222, ext.
Crime victims have a right under Chapter 56 of the
of Criminal Procedure to be notified of all relevant court
Additionally, they have the right to be informed ahead of time if the
have been cancelled or rescheduled. Victims should inform the
or victim assistance coordinator of their desire to be notified of
settings, as well as make them aware of any changes in contact
How will a victim know when something
with his/her criminal case?
A Texas law (Code of Criminal Procedure Article 56.08) requires
to give victims written notice about various important stages of a
proceeding. For instance, state prosecutors must notify victims no
than 10 days after a defendant has been charged with a crime. Read the statute here.
Always feel free to call your local prosecutor's office. For
that have not been filed, call the local law enforcement agency that
Victims may also request that the prosecutor notify
them of any scheduled court proceedings, changes in that schedule,
(when a proceeding is postponed until a later date), and any plea
agreements that will be presented to a judge. (Code of Criminal
Article 56.08(b).) If you have questions about the information you
receive, contact the Victim Assistance Division of your local
office for more specific information about the case.
Texas jails and prisons also participate in a
notification program called Texas VINE (Victim Information and
Everyday). It is a free tool for crime victims and other concerned
that provides basic information on jailed or imprisoned offenders,
information and scheduled court events. It will notify
users of changes in offender jail status, case and court events and is
24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English or in Spanish. For more
about Texas VINE, see www.vinelink.com.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Victim Services Division also
notify victims of prisoner releases. Call TDCJ at
Where can crime victims get counseling when
they can’t afford to pay for it on their own?
Texas has a Crime Victims' Compensation Fund that is designed
pay for some expenses related to the most serious types of crimes when
victim has no other way to pay. Counseling, for instance, is one of
types of expenses that CVC funds can help with. For more information
specific expenses covered by CVC funds, see the Texas Attorney
website: www.oag.state.tx.us or read the Crime
Victims' Compensation brochure [PDF] For help filing a CVC fund
request, contact the Victim’s Assistance
Division in the local prosecutor’s office.
Where can victim services programs get information about
Start with these potential resources:
What is family violence?
Family violence is defined in Chapter 5 of the Texas
of Criminal Procedure as: (1) an act of or threat to cause
harm by one member of a family or household against another;
of a child by a member of the child's family or household; and (3)
"Family" includes blood relatives or relatives by marriage, former
parents of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or any
or former member of a household (people living in the same house,
or not). The existence of dating relationships is determined by
length of the relationship, the nature of their relationship, and the
and type of interaction between the persons involved.
Who can help family violence victims obtain assistance and
Victims of family violence are entitled to the maximum
from harm or abuse or the threat of harm or abuse as permitted by
Family violence victims should contact their local law enforcement
prosecutor, and family violence centers for assistance.
How can a family violence victim get a protective order?
A protective order is a civil court order issued to
continuing acts of family violence. The order can prohibit an offender
(1) committing further acts of family violence; (2) harassing or
the victim (directly or indirectly); and (3) going to or near a school
day-care center attended by a child protected by the order.
Victims can apply for a protective order through the district or
attorney, a private attorney or through a legal aid service
The application must be filed in the county in which the
the offender lives. There are no minimum time limits to
residency, and protective orders are available in every county in
These potential resources may also assist victims:
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings through
abduction, the use or threat of force, deception, coercion, fraud, or
sale for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. It also
includes people held against their will to pay off a debt. Human
trafficking does not require the crossing of an international border.
Examples of Human Trafficking: Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, Worker
Exploitation, and Sex Trafficking.
A victims' initial agreement to travel or perform some kind of labor
does not allow an employer to later restrict that person's freedom or
to use force or threats to obtain repayment. Consent of the victim is
irrelevant- a person cannot agree to be trafficked. Human Trafficking
victims can be found in Domestic help, Sweat Shops, Prostitution Rings,
Child Pornography, Agricultural Work, Au Pair Programs, Janitorial
Services, Construction, Restaurants, Salons.
Victims of Human Trafficking. Trafficking victims have
rights regardless of immigration status, although non-resident victims
of human trafficking are not eligible for crime victims' compensation
in Texas. All trafficking victims can access police assistance,
emergency shelter, medical care, and protective orders without the
obligation to state their place of birth or immigration status. Other
rights can include benefits such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance
to Needy Families (TANF), social services, and immigration
relief. Additional resources and services are available for minors who
are victims of Human Trafficking.
Texas Laws against Trafficking. The Texas Penal
Code criminalizes the Trafficking of Persons. Read the Statute.
U.S. Department of Justice: For more information
about the Trafficking of Persons.
For help, victims of Human Trafficking should call the Human
Trafficking Complaint Line 1-888-428-7581, contact local law
enforcement, or contact the local District Attorney's Office.
TEN MINUTE MENTORS
Owed to Victims of Crime/ Texas Crime Victims' Compensation
Family Lawyers Need to Know About the Rights of Crime Victims in
Sexual Assault Victims in Texas
Victims of Crimes
Several resources for crime victims are available at the state
Some of them include:
- Reporting Child or Elder Abuse or Neglect:
the Department of Family and Protective Services at (800) 252-5400
or see its
Visit the website of Children's
Advocacy Centers. For information about the
court-appointed advocate program for abused or neglected children,
For information about child abuse/neglect resources and laws, see this
brochure [PDF] from the Texas Attorney General's Office.
- Sexual Assault: For information applicable to
of sexual assault, see the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault’s
and the Rape, Abuse
& Incest National Network.
- Family Violence: For assistance regarding domestic violence see
Texas Council on
Family Violence website or the Texas
Advocacy Project website for legal solutions to end
- Texas Attorney General, Crime Victim Services
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Victim Services
- FAQs: For frequently asked questions about the criminal
process, see an example written by the Harris County District Attorney’s
Office. Programs in other Texas
counties may differ.
- Texas State Securities Board: The State Securities
Board is responsible for regulating the securities industry in Texas.
They register securities offered or sold in Texas and oversee the
firms and individuals selling securities or providing investment advice
to Texans. Contact the State Securities Board to file a complaint about
the offer and sale of securities or about your securities dealer or
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice- Inmate
Search: For information on a Texas Offender's TDCJ number,
incarceration location, offense of conviction, incarceration history
(offense, county and court of conviction of offenses for which the
offender was incarcerated previously), current incarceration offense
(county and court of conviction), and projected release date.
The following websites also provide helpful information for
of crime and service providers:
- Department of Justice/Office for Victims of
Crime: Provides information and referrals for all
victims of crime, including information
for international crime victims and all states' crime victim
Victims of Crime and National Organization
for Victim Assistance: Reference and referral
for all types of
crime victims, ranging from sexual assault, stalking, and dating
to identify theft and white-collar crime.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children: To report information on an Amber alert
or for information on internet safety.
- Cyber Tip Line: To report instances
of child sexual
exploitation on the internet including child pornography, online
of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the
tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited
material or threats sent to a child on the internet, call (800)
843-5678 or visit the website.
- Rape, Abuse and
Incest National Network: The nation's
largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the
Sexual Assault Hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual
help victims, and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
See the website or
call (800) 656-HOPE.
- National Center for Victims of Crime, Stalking Resource
Center: Provides helpful information for victims of
- Parents of Murdered
Children: Provides support and assistance
to family and friends of homicide victims, including on-going
support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness. POMC
has many local chapters throughout
Texas and the country.
- Security on Campus: Provides
about crime victim assistance for crimes occurring on a college
campus and what to do if you become a victim of campus sexual
- Federal Trade Commission: Visit
this site to report identity
theft, or call the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 438-4338.
- Bureau of Prisons - Federal Inmate Search: For
information on the status of a federal inmate.