Victim Rights and Resources
Alabama's Victim's Rights Law
Law enforcement agency required to provide victim with information concerning services, compensation benefits, etc.
Within 72 hours, unless the victim is unavailable or incapacitated as a result of the crime, after the initial contact between a victim of a reported crime and the law enforcement agency either responding to the report of the crime of the victim or another person, or having responsibility for investigating the crime, the law enforcement agency shall provide to the victim in a manner and form designed and produced for the appropriate governmental agency or office, the following information:
(1) The availability of emergency and crisis services.
(2) The availability of victims' compensation benefits and the name, address, and telephone number of the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission.
(3) The name of the law enforcement officer and telephone number of the law enforcement agency with the following statement attached: "If within 60 days you are not notified of an arrest in your case, you may call the telephone number of the law enforcement agency for the status of the case."
(4) The procedural steps involved in a criminal prosecution.
(5) The rights authorized by the Alabama Constitution on rights of victims, including a form to invoke these rights.
(6) The existence and eligibility requirements of restitution and compensation pursuant to Section 15-18-65 et seq. and Section 15-23-1 et seq.
(7) A recommended procedure if the victim is subjected to threats or intimidation.
(8) The name and telephone number of the office of the prosecuting attorney to contact for further information.
(Acts 1995, No. 95-583, p. 1234, §3.)
The initial step in seeking justice for a victim is to file a report with the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, not where the victim lives. For example, if a citizen of Hartselle is in another city or county and is a victim of a crime, the crime should be reported to that police or sheriff’s department’s jurisdiction. The only exception to this is identity theft.
To initiate a report, residents of Hartselle may contact Central Dispatch at 256-350-4613 and an officer can come to your residence or place of business. Non-residents reporting a crime that occurred while in Hartselle should remain on scene and contact Central Dispatch. Alternatively, anyone can come to the Hartselle Police Department in person and speak with an officer to begin the reporting process.
After meeting with an officer, the report should be ready within 72 business hours after the incident or accident. Copies of offense and accident reports can be picked up in person from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 150 NW Chestnut Street, Hartselle, AL 35640. Accident reports are $10.00 and offense reports are $5.00. Accident reports can also be ordered online at CRASHDOCS.ORG.
Cases are followed up either by the responding officer making the report, or an investigator assigned the case. If the case is a Misdemeanor that means it is adjudicated in municipal court which is in Hartselle at the Hartselle Municipal Building. If you would like to obtain a warrant for the perpetrator, you will need to take your report to the Municipal Building between Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 611 Chestnut Street NW, Hartselle, AL 35640. You are encouraged to call ahead and make an appointment to see a magistrate to discuss the case at 256-773-2703. You must be able to identify the suspect and provide enough details for a warrant to be issued.
All Felony cases will be reviewed and assigned to and investigator for follow up. After an investigator reviews the case, they may call you for more information, to include any new information you may have obtained since the report or any documents about your case. Investigators will attempt to interview witnesses and suspects in felony cases. If the investigator determines there is enough information for an arrest of the suspect (otherwise probable cause), the investigator will obtain the warrant and keep you informed about the arrest. This process can be confusing to some and you are encouraged to ask questions of your reporting officer or investigator if one is assigned your case.
Victims of domestic violence are often intentionally isolated and financially controlled by the abuser. Domestic violence victims can feel they are alone and unable to leave a violent situation. The officers and investigators of the Hartselle Police Department are here to assist in helping victims locate resources to assist with the transition out of an abusive relationship. There are several organizations available in Morgan County to assist domestic violence victims. Please take advantage of these options available. Some victims inquire about a PFA. The Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) process begins with the Circuit Clerks Office located on the 4th floor of the Morgan County Courthouse, 302 Lee St NE, Decatur, AL 35601. The PFA is an order restraining the abuser from further violence, threats, and other conditions imposed by the judge to keep the victim safe. The phone number for more information is 256-351-4790.
Sexual Assault can occur with adults and children. Victims can be both, male or female. Most times there is no statute of limitations (time which the offense must be reported) with these crimes. Victims of sexual assaults wishing to open a case about their abuse should do so and expect to be treated with dignity by members of the Hartselle Police Department. Investigators are available to discuss the process and potential outcomes of the process.
Victims of sexual assault should however report the crime as quickly as possible so evidence can be collected and examined. Victims are asked to refrain from bathing or cleaning in any manner until an examination can be conducted. Victims should not go to an emergency room unless injuries require medical attention. The Hartselle Police Department will coordinate with the Crisis Services to conduct these examinations. You DO NOT have to commit to prosecution to have the examination. An investigator will discuss your options and not do anything without discussing the case.
Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission
In an effort to alleviate hardships suffered by victims of crime, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission Law on June 1, 1984.
Alabama's compensation law covers a variety of expenses for which compensation is paid. The Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission provides the only substantial financial compensation to victims for expenses for personal injuries including medical, funeral and counseling bills.
This assistance lessens the financial burden on innocent victims of violent crime and serves as a vehicle of hope for the rights of crime victims.
Our state law is unique. It requires a victim or family member of a victim of violent crime to serve on the three-member Commission which hears victim compensation cases. This provision insures that claims are reviewed from the victim's standpoint.
Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission is located at 5845 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36117-2329 or 1-800-541-9388 (For Victims Only). Felony cases involving arrests will automatically be sent to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office for the Victim Service Officer 256-560-6135.
As earlier stated, Misdemeanor cases require a victim pursue the warrant. Once arrested the defendant will be required to appear for arraignment where they will plea guilty nor not guilty. If the defendant pleas not guilty, a trial date will be set to hear the case with the city prosecutor prosecuting the suspect. If there is a guilty plea, there is normally restitution involved in the settlement.
All felony cases must be investigated by the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). The investigator will determine which way to best pursue charges against the suspect. Sometimes the cases are referred to the Morgan County District Attorney’s Office for further review and presented to the Grand Jury.
If the case is presented to the Grand Jury and the case is No Billed, the case goes no further. If the case is True Billed, a warrant is issued for the offender. After arrest, the offender will then have the option to plea guilty or not guilty and have a trial.
If the investigator determines there is probable cause for an arrest and decides to obtain a warrant, the investigator will obtain the warrant and make the arrest. The case is then subject to a first appearance, preliminary hearing, grand jury, and plea or trail.
Intimidation or Threats
If you are threatened by the suspect after a report has been obtained, report the additional threat to the police department. If the suspect makes threats after he/she has been arrested, contact the magistrate at 256-773-2703. If the suspect makes a threat after a felony arrest, contact the investigator assigned to the case.
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Morgan County District Attorney’s Office
Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission
Alabama Department of Corrections
Alabama Department of Human Resources
Alabama Department of Senior Services
Alabama's Coalition Against Domestic Violence
334.832.4842 or 800.650.6522
Alabama's Coalition Against Rape
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (Alabama)
334.277.7722 or 800.635.0722
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Children's Advocacy Center
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Organization for Victim Assistance
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
Victim Connect Resource Center
Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL)