The Victim/Witness Assistance Program of the Erie County Prosecutor's Office provides assistance and information to victims of crime and referrals to other quality support services offered in Erie County. Advocates are available twenty-four hours a day to assist victims of crimes such as domestic violence, stalking, assault, sexual abuse, child abuse/neglect and drunk driving. These services are available to all residents of Erie County, or anyone who becomes the victim of a violent crime within Erie County.
This program is headed by Ms. Sarah Reynolds, a trained advocate and counselor, and she and her staff are available to lend immediate support to victims of crime, to accompany them to court appearances, provide information and guidance concerning the criminal justice system, make referrals to appropriate social service agencies and counselors, provide information concerning payment of medical bills from State funds, and to notify victims and witnesses concerning important hearing dates and the status or outcome of criminal cases in which they are involved.
The Victim Assistance Program is housed in within the Erie County Prosecutor's Office, 247 Columbus Avenue, Suite 319, Sandusky, Ohio. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by appointment.
There is no charge for any of the services provided by the program. The Program is funded by federal grants received by the Ohio Attorney General's Office as well a various annual fundraising activities.
- Personal Advocacy
- Available to meet crime victims at crime scenes, hospitals, and police stations 24 hours a day. Familiarize victims and witnesses with the criminal justice system and explain the adjudication process. Accompany victims to court hearings, provide reassurance to those experiencing fear of retaliation, assure separation from the defendant or defendant's family at the courthouse, and transport victims and witnesses to and from court if necessary.
- Inform the victims and witnesses of the present status and/or disposition of their case.
- Refer crime victims to counselors and appropriate social service agencies.
- Victim Compensation
- Eligible crime victims in the State of Ohio may collect from the Victim Compensation Fund. Reparations applications supplied and referrals to attorneys who assist the victim in the filing of a claim free of charge.
- Victim Impact Statement
- Assist victims in preparing a statement expressing his or her feelings regarding how the victimization has affected his or her life; submission to the Erie County Municipal Court and to the presiding Judge to read prior to sentencing.
- Victims' Rights
- Upon request, provide information to victims regarding the Ohio Parole Board and parole or release hearings.
- Public Education
- Inform the public of programs and services through brochures and education.
- What are my rights as a Victim of Crime?
- Ohio law gives you specific statutory rights before, during,
and after the trial. Your statutory rights under the Ohio
Revised Code include, but are not limited to:
- The right to receive information about your rights as a crime victim.
- The right to appoint the victim advocate as their representative.
- The right to receive current information about the criminal investigation.
- The right to be notified when the offender is arrested or released before trial.
- The right to reasonable return of property.
- The right to information from and input about defendant's incarceration and parole status.
- Can I be compensated for the harm done to me?
- The Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation program provides
reimbursement for certain out of pocket expenses that result
when innocent victims are physically injured, emotionally
harmed or killed by violent criminal acts.
The program was created in 1976 by the Ohio Legislature, which recognized that because the effects of violent crime can be so devastating, victims or their dependents should have access to financial assistance to pay bills for medical treatment or burial.
Victims can use the program only as a "payer of last resort", which means they must first exhaust all other available sources of financial assistance before becoming eligible for compensation. Other sources may include but are not limited to medical or dental insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, worker's compensation, civil recovery and restitution from the offender.
- Am I eligible for help from the Fund?
- Maybe. In order to be eligible to make a claim, a victim must report the crime to a law enforcement officer within 72 hours and must cooperate fully in the investigation and any prosecution of the crime. However, the offender does not need to be caught or convicted for the victim to be eligible for compensation. The victim also must file a claim for compensation within two (2) years of the date of the crime. Minor victims have until their 20th birthday to file a compensation claim.
- What is the maximum amount that I can receive?
- The maximum amount of compensation available from the program is $50,000 per victim per incident. The total amount includes all awards granted as a result of victimization.
- Who can I contact for help?
- Erie County Prosecutor's Victim Assistance Program: (419) 627-7699
- Firelands Regional Medical Center: (419) 557-7400
- Erie County Sheriff: (419) 625-7951
- Erie County Public Defender: (419) 448-9440
- Erie County Job and Family Services: (419) 626-6781
- Erie County Health Department: (419) 626-5623
- Clerk of Courts – Erie County Common Pleas Court: (419) 627-7705