Crime Victims Now Have Constitutional Rights

North Carolina Ethics Case Shows Important Role of Victims’ Rights Attorneys in Criminal Justice System

September 6, 2019

A DA faces an ethics complaint for his failures in a child sexual abuse

North Carolina Ethics Case Shows Important Role of Victims’ Rights Attorneys in Criminal Justice System

In 2015, prosecutor Gregory Newman of Henderson County, North Carolina cut a deal with a man accused of felony child rape. The accused — James Sapp — had been indicted by the grand jury for rape and four other charges related to sexual assault.

Two weeks before a hearing where the victim and her parents were set to appear at a hearing, Mr. Newman made a deal with Mr. Sapp. He dismissed the felong rape and sexual assault charges and allowed Sapp to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault on a female. He never informed the victim or her family about this deal, or gave the victim an opportunity to present the victim impact statement that she had prepared.

According to Meg Garvin, the executive director of the National Crime Victims Law Institute (NCVLI), this ethics investigation — and public pressure over similar deals, as in the Jeffrey Epstein case — is a good thing. Ms. Garvin stated, “I’m really hoping that all of this media attention results in survivors being empowered to not just ask about their rights, but demand them. It’s exciting to see someone’s feet being held to the fire.”

One of the ways that victims of crimes can demand their rights is through an Orange County victims’ rights attorney. While there are protections built into both California and federal law, that does not guarantee that an individual will actually receive the protections envisioned under the law. An experienced lawyer can hold the prosecutor, police, and others in the criminal justice system accountable — and work to ensure that you achieve justice.

Attorney Michael Fell is a former prosecutor who spent more than 18 years at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, first as a Deputy District Attorney and then as a Senior Deputy District Attorney. He prosecuted cases involving arson, organized crime, juvenile crime, child molestation, hate crimes, gangs, and murder. Mr. Fell understands how the DA’s office works — because he spent nearly two decades on that side of the table. He knows that while most prosecutors want justice for victims — that isn’t their main priority.

Now, he works for victims under the 2008 California Constitutional Victims’ Bill of Rights (also known as Marsy’s Law). His firm, Justice 4 Crime Victims, exclusively represents individuals who have suffered because they have been victimized by criminals. As an Orange County victims’ rights attorney, getting justice for crime victims is his only priority. If you have been a victim of any type of crime in California, he may be able to help you by:

  • Making sure that the prosecutor considers your best interests when negotiating a deal;
  • Speaking on your behalf in any court proceedings;
  • Helping you access services available to you under Marsy’s Law, such as counseling, childcare, housing, or financial assistance; and
  • Protecting you from the defendant via the legal system.

The North Carolina case illustrates that prosecutors do not always have the best interests of victims at heart. A victims’ rights attorney can ensure that you have a voice in the process, and that you receive what you are entitled to under California law.

Justice 4 Crime Victims is here for you. We represent victims of a range of crimes, including sexual assault and related offenses, arson, assault, domestic violence, burglary, gang violence, DUI, elder abuse, fraud, identity theft, robbery, murder, theft, manslaughter, robbery, and vandalism. Contact our office today at 949-585-9055 or mfell@fellesq.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a seasoned Orange County victims’ rights attorney.