Court Advocacy Victim Assistance Program advocates, interns and volunteers are available to help victims navigate through the municipal courts system in Akron, Barberton and Stow as well as the Summit County Juvenile Courts, Domestic Relations Courts and the Court of Common Pleas. Victims who have never been involved in the judicial system can find the process to be extremely confusing and intimidating. As a result, Victim Assistance Program provides free court advocacy services to help reduce victim’s anxiety by offering a variety of services based on the individual’s needs. Court Advocates are NOT lawyers and are not permitted to provide legal advice, they are however permitted to support victims in the following ways: court accompaniment Advocates are available to provide informative and emotional support to victims throughout the court system. Support during criminal trials, protection order hearings and those testifying in grand jury often benefit the most. protection orders Victims whose lives have been threatened have the right to petition (ask) the court for a protection order. These orders legally mandate another individual from having contact with a victim. There are different types of protection orders and different applications one must complete and then file with the clerk of courts before seeing a magistrate or judge. Victim Assistance Program addresses the victim’s safety concerns and provides them with information about protection orders and the eligibility requirements to petition the court for the order. The advocates will assist the victim in completing the application, inform them of the step by step process and if staffing allows, provide court accompaniment to the hearings. VINE The Ohio Attorney General’s Office oversees the VINE (Victim Identification Notification Everyday) Program which increases victims’ awareness of the status of their incarcerated aggressors. Advocates will educate victims about this system and assist them in completing the registration process. victim compensation The Ohio Attorney General’s Office oversees a fund known as Victim Compensation, which was put in place to provide eligible victims with some financial assistance after a victimization. In order to access these funds, an application must be submitted identifying the victimization and need for financial assistance. Victim Assistance staff have access to these applications and are able to assist in completing and filing the paperwork. victim impact statement Victims who have witnessed their aggressors guilty verdict from a judge or jury have a significant role during the sentencing phase of their aggressors trial. Victims and their loved ones have the right to provide a victim impact statement to shed light onto the emotional, physical and financial effects the victimization has had on their life. Victim Witness Advocates from the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office will meet with victims to prepare the statement to be read in court. Victim Assistance Program advocates will also meet with victims whose aggressors are juveniles and have trails held at the Summit County Juvenile Courts. victims' rights Under the Ohio Revised Code, victims have been granted legal rights which must be upheld by the court of law. It is not surprising that many individuals are not aware of the laws and rights they have. Therefore, Victim Assistance strives to educate victims about their rights which can be accessed in full by clicking here.