NCVLI and OCVLC Protect Victims’ Rights in Oregon
April 26, 2011
An Oregon victim’s estranged husband, who has an extensive criminal record as well as access to weapons, violated his restraining order. At the time of the violation police from multiple counties in Oregon agreed that he was “a significant threat to the victim” and even asked for the public’s help in apprehending him. Defendant was finally located and taken into custody, but was charged only with misdemeanor stalking. The victim desired to be involved in the case and took the time to fill in the victims’ rights request form and submit it to the prosecutor’s office very quickly.
Unfortunately, despite the victim’s constitutional right to consult with the prosecution prior to a plea, the prosecution and the defense began plea negotiations and reached an agreement all without involving the victim. Defendant pled guilty, receiving only probation on the stalking charge, with all 16 counts of the violation of the restraining order dismissed. This happened without notice to the victim and without the opportunity for her to be present and heard at the hearing, and all despite the fact that everyone agreed that he was a significant threat.
The victim retained NCVLI’s partner clinic, the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, which immediately sought a reconsideration of the sentence, and when the reconsideration was denied, sought appellate review of the decision. A decision is pending. This is the first case to use the new victims’ rights appeal statute passed into law in Oregon in 2008. NCVLI is working with the Clinic on the case to fight for justice for this victim.
Because victims need attorneys standing with them in court to ensure that their independent voice is heard, NCVLI launched its Network of Victims’ Rights Enforcement Clinics. These clinics provide essential services to victims across the country, like this Oregon victim.