Crime Victims Now Have Constitutional Rights

How Victims’ Rights Attorney Can Protect Your Privacy

October 11, 2019

In criminal cases, your lawyer can take certain steps to help protect your privacy

How a Victims’ Rights Attorney Can Protect Your Privacy

If you are a victim of a California crime, you may already been suffering from trauma from the experience. The last thing that you need is to be re-traumatized by the court process. The goal of the criminal justice system is not to protect your interests as a victim — it is to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice. Having an Irvine victims’ rights attorney by your side can help to protect your rights, such as maintaining your privacy.

There are a number of ways that your lawyer can shield you through the process, without impeding the criminal case. In California, Marsy’s Law guarantees certain rights to crime victims and their families. This includes the right to be treated with fairness and with respect for your privacy and dignity. A skilled Irvine victims’ rights attorney can help protect your right to privacy in the following ways:

  1. Prevent Defense Access to Your Home
  2. In situations where your home was the crime scene, the lawyer for the defendant may claim that they need to access your home in order to prepare a defense. However, in California, a defendant must show good cause and “plausible justification” to overcome a victim’s fundamental right to privacy in their home, free from judicial intrusion. If a defendant seeks access to your home, your Irvine victims’ rights attorney can argue that there is not a good enough reason to allow this sufficient to overcome your privacy rights.

  3. Protection of Confidential or Privileged Records
  4. In certain cases, particularly those involving sexual assault, a defendant may try to obtain a victim’s medical or mental health records. This is often done as a way to attack the victim’s credibility, such as by arguing that the victim has difficulty discerning truth from fiction due to a mental health issue.

    If these records are in the possession of the prosecutor or police, then they generally must be turned over to the defendant in a process known as discovery. However, if a defendant seeks these records from you or from a third party, such as a doctor or your therapist, then your Irvine victims’ rights attorney can object to the production of these records on the basis that they are confidential, privileged, or otherwise private.

  5. Using a Pseudonym
  6. If you have been a victim of any type of crime, you may feel a mix of emotions, such as fear, guilt, sadness, anger, or shame. For some victims, being publicly identified as a crime victim is painful or even dangerous. In these situations, the use of a pseudonym can be an important way to protect your privacy and prevent re-victimization. This is particularly critical in the internet era, when so much information is readily searchable by anyone with access to a computer, tablet or smart phone. Your lawyer can advocate for you to only be identified by a pseudonym in your criminal case.

These are just three of the ways that a seasoned Irvine victims’ rights attorney can work to protect your privacy throughout the criminal justice process. Taking these steps can give you peace of mind and help to make sure that you have a voice in the process — and that you take back some of the dignity that was taken from you by the perpetrator.

For more than 18 years, Michael Fell worked as a district attorney for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. During this time, he prosecuted hundreds of cases, including arson, organized crime, juvenile crime, murder, and child molestation. As a Deputy District Attorney, and later a Senior Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Fell developed a passion for helping victims of crime. In 2009, he opened Justice 4 Crime Victims — a law firm dedicated to protecting California crime victims.

If you have been a victim of a crime, we can help. Contact Justice 4 Crime Victims today at 949-585-9055 or mfell@fellesq.com to schedule a free consultation with an Irvine victims’ rights attorney.