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Successful Divorce in Alabama
Successful Divorce
in Alabama


Why Does He Do That
Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men


How to Stop a Stalker
How to Stop a Stalker


The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond
The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond


Ditch That Jerk : Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women
Ditch That Jerk : Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women


I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse
I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse


The Battered Wife: How Christians Confront Family Violence
The Battered Wife: How Christians Confront Family Violence


But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships
But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships


Sexual Assault: Will I Ever Feel OK Again
Sexual Assault: Will I Ever Feel Okay Again?


The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse


Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide For The Concerned
Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide For The Concerned


Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims
Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims




ALABAMA: Victim Info



- Alabama Restitution Orders
- Alabama Victim Compensation
- Alabama Statute of Limitations
- Article: Civil Remedies for Alabama Crime Victims


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Alabama Restitution Information
WHEN DOES THE RESTITUTION PROCESS BEGIN?

The restitution process begins at the time of Grand Jury. As a victim, you will be asked to complete a restitution affidavit which lists your losses, including travel, missed work, property, medical, and other expenses resulting from the crime. If you do not complete the affidavit during Grand Jury, you will be contacted by telephone or letter to obtain this information. It is very important to respond, since restitution cannot be ordered without this information. A Restitution Officer is responsible for monitoring and tracking all court ordered payments made by the defendant. Methods used by the Restitution Officer to enforce the court's order include restitution dockets, contempt hearings, restitution agreements, income withholding, and prison account attachments.

HOW CAN THE VICTIM ASSIST THE COURT IN ORDERING RESTITUTION?

To assist the court in ordering restitution, keep your receipts, estimates, or bills for damages or injuries suffered in connection with the crime. This information, along with your name, address, and telephone number is recorded on the restitution affidavit. Bring a copy of all paper work when you come to Grand Jury. If you change your address or telephone number, contact the Restitution Officer immediately to update your affidavit.

HOW DOES THE COURT DETERMINE RESTITUTION?

If convicted of a crime, a defendant may be ordered to pay restitution in an amount set by the judge. Generally restitution is ordered after a hearing at sentencing. It may be necessary for you to testify at the hearing.

WHAT IF THE VICTIM HAS INSURANCE?

As a victim of a crime, check with your insurance company to see if your policy will cover the expenses of your injuries or property loss. If your insurance does cover all or part of these losses, inform your insurance company that it has a right to file a restitution affidavit for its losses. However, you cannot claim what the insurance company pays you. You can only claim the amount of the deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance.

WHAT IF THE DEFENDANT IS IN JAIL?

If sent to prison or jail, the defendant probably will not be able to pay restitution until released. However, you may have a civil remedies available. You may wish to consult an attorney concerning this possibility.

WHAT IF THE VICTIM NEEDS ADDITIONAL SUPPORT?

If you need additional support, contact VOCAL (Victims of Crime and Leniency) at 1-800-239-3219.

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Alabama Victim Compensation: 1-800-541-9388

Who Can Apply?

Any person who is an innocent victim of criminally injurious conduct and who has sustained personal injuries as a result; or a surviving spouse or child of a victim who died as a result of criminally injurious conduct.

What Other Requirements Must Be Met?

  • The claim must be filed within one (1) year of the incident, or good cause shown.
  • The crime must be reported to the proper law enforcement agency within 72 hours of the incident, or good cause shown.
  • The victim or claimant must cooperate fully with law enforcement.
  • The victim or claimant must not be the offender or an accomplice of the offender.
  • No portion of the compensation shall unjustly benefit the offender.
  • The victim must not have contributed to the offense, or have been involved in illegal activity at the time of the offense.
  • The victim cannot be a person who was confined in a jail, penitentiary or other correctional facility at the time of the crime.
  • The victim will not be compensated if he/she has committed a criminal injury to another or he/she shall be convicted of a felony after applying for compensation.

What Compensation May Be Paid?

The maximum award is $15,000 (as of May 1, 1998) with limitations on certain expenses.

The award may cover the following:

Medical care
Psychiatric care
Work loss due to the crime
Funeral expenses
Rehabilitation of the victim

The Commission pays only those expenses which are not covered by another source such as insurance, workman's compensation, etc. The victim or claimant must not receive compensation from two sources.

Please Note: Stolen property, property damage (certain types), checks or cash will not be covered by the Compensation Commission. (To recover damages for these things, you'll need to file a suit against the offender in civil court.)

What Happens After I File?

Your claim will be investigated and processed to determine eligibility for compensation. After the investigation is completed and the information is reported to the Compensation Commission, the Commission will approve, deny or reduce the claim.

How Will I Be Advised Of the Decision?

You will be sent a copy of the decision explaining the status of your claim. You may appeal the decision made by the Commission.

How Do I File A Claim?

[Download Victim Compensation Brochure (PDF)]

[Download Application for Victim Compensation (PDF)]

Mail in the form or contact:

Alabama Crime Victims
Compensation Commission
P.O. Box 1548
Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1548
Phone (334)242-4007
Fax (334) 353-1401

You may also contact your Victims' Service Officer in your local District Attorney's Office.

Alabama Statute of Limitations

Criminal Actions: Per Alabama Statute 15-3-5 there is no limitation of time within which a prosecution must be commenced for:

  • (1) Any capital offense;
  • (2) Any felony involving the use, attempted use, or threat of, violence to a person;
  • (3) Any felony involving serious physical injury or death of a person;
  • (4) Any sex offense involving a victim under 16 years of age, regardless of whether it involves force or serious physical injury or death;

Civil Action: Two years from date of injury per Section 6-2-38 Alabama Statutes

Taking the Law Into Their Own Hands: Civil Remedies for Alabama Crime Victims

Marci S. Johns, J.D.
Reprinted Courtesy of the Institute for Criminal Justice Education, Inc.

Although they are an integral component of the criminal justice system, crime victims simply do not have the ability to control the outcome of the criminal trial. After months or perhaps years of reliving their nightmare, many crime victims are left without remedy. These victims, along with those who are fortunate enough to witness their perpetrator receive justice, are nonetheless left with physical, psychological and monetary scars. Consequently, many victims chose to take the law into their own hands by exercising their Seventh Amendment right to a civil trial.

A civil action is usually based on a tort, a private wrong committed against an individual. Most often, a tort is committed by the breach of some duty owed to the plaintiff. There are many reasons that a civil action appeals to many crime victims. First, in a civil action the plaintiff has control of the case. Plaintiff crime victims choose their own attorney and many times work closely with the attorney in preparing the case against their case against the defendant. The plaintiff crime victim's attorney is in some instances more aggressive in the civil arena. The victim also decides whether or not to accept a settlement offer. More importantly to the crime victim, civil courts do not operate to protect all of the constitutional rights of the defendant. The rules of evidence are more lenient and the defendant can not hide behind his 5th Amendment right to remain silent. The civil trial is sometimes the first opportunity for the crime victim to hear the defendant's own personal accounting of the events that changed their life. This is comforting to a crime victim recovering from a traumatic experience with the criminal justice system.

The burden of proof in the civil arena is drastically different from that of a criminal trial. This is another reason why a civil action is appealing to many crime victims. The plaintiff crime victim is responsible for proving liability with only a preponderance of the evidence. It is much easier for the plaintiff crime victim to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the commission of a tort rather than proving criminal culpability beyond a reasonable doubt.

Successful civil actions can result in full monetary reimbursement. Often, the amount collected is far more than the victim's actual damages. (1) In those situations where a conviction is not obtained, the next best remedy is compensation. The achievement of full monetary reimbursement, particularly if the defendant pays out-of-pocket, is sometimes vindication for the plaintiff crime victim.

The civil arena is not always a pleasant experience for the plaintiff crime victim, however. They must once again face their perpetrator, as well as many other obstacles. The entire case must be fought all over again in the courtroom, this time at the victim's expense, without the backing of the government and its enormous resources. Victims have to put their lives on hold for years while the litigation process slowly drags on.

Crime victims also find yet another obstacle in that many attorneys are hesitant to accept representation of the crime victim in a case that fails to assure collectability. Many [defendants] are judgment proof - broke and with no prospects of coming into money from careers or inheritances. (2) Although attorneys sincerely want to help the crime victim, many times they are forced to turn their back.

Assuming that the crime victim is fortunate enough to sue a defendant that is solvent either independently or by way of an insurance policy, there are many theories of recovery by which the victim can proceed. The tort will be based on some intentional act by the perpetrator or will be based on some negligent interaction between the victim and the perpetrator. A few of the common tort which require intent on the part of the perpetrator are assault, battery, wrongful death, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A crime victim may also choose to proceed with a cause of action based on the unintentional tort of negligence. In order to prove negligence, the victim must prove that the perpetrator owed a duty to the victim, the perpetrator breached that duty and as a proximate cause of the breach, the victim suffered damages. The tort of negligence is an important alternative in the crime victim's civil action. First, it may offer recover based on the liability of the perpetrator individually. Second, the tort of negligence may offer recovery based on the theory of third party liability. Under this theory, due to a duty owed to the plaintiff crime victim by a third party, the plaintiff crime victim is compensated by someone other than the perpetrator individually. Since third parties are often organizations or corporations, such actions can sometimes offer the victim alternative potential sources from which to collect other types of damages which might not be collectable against the perpetrator. (3) The integration of possible third party liability into the crime victim's civil action may provide multiple causes of action and attainable judgment awards.

An analysis of Alabama law also suggests that with increasing frequency, criminal conduct, generally the province of criminal prosecutions, now forms the basis for alleging potential civil liability, not just against the criminal actor but against third parties with whom the criminal actor has some relationship. (4) One of the leading Alabama cases in which liability was imposed on a third party is Young v. Huntsville Hospital.(5) In Young, a trespasser who had previously been warned by the hospital to leave the premises allegedly assaulted the plaintiff crime victim, while sedated and recovering from kidney stones. In determining liability in this case, the Young court applied the special relationship test, which states that there is no duty to control the conduct of a third party unless there is a special relationship between the premises owner and the third party or between the premises owner and the plaintiff. (6) The Young court, in applying this test, concluded that due to the sedated state of the victim, a special relationship did exist. Specifically, the court held that a hospital or healthcare provider owes a duty to a sedated or anesthetized patient, who, because of such condition and the circumstances around it, is dependent upon the hospital or healthcare provider.(7) In this instance, the plaintiff crime victim sued a third party successfully and overcame the hurdle of collectability. The Alabama Courts have also used the special circumstances test in their analysis of third party liability cases. Special circumstances exist only when the defendant knew or had reason to know of a probability of conduct by third persons that would endanger the plaintiff. (8) The special circumstances test will present a problem for many plaintiff crime victims. It is difficult to prove the foreseeability necessary to prevail on a third liability theory of recovery.

A final example of an attempt to impute third party liability is the theory of respondeat superior, which states that an employer is liable for injury to a person or property of another proximately resulting from acts of employee done within scope of his employment in the employer's service. (9)

The phrase plaintiff crime victim seems almost paradoxical. Traditional thinking would conclude that the state is responsible for the pursuit of justice for the victims of crime. Even the captions in criminal cases suggest that the state, not the crime victim, is in control and is responsible for vindication. However, many crime victims regain control of their life by taking the law into their own hands. Plaintiff crime victims are compensated based on a number of torts, depending completely on the facts of the case, and regardless of the theory of recovery utilized by the crime victim, civil actions can provide meaningful options for compensation. Amidst the predominance of judicial discretion in the civil arena, the plaintiff crime victim is finally offered an opportunity to take control of the crime that so affected their life.

Footnotes

1. Andrew Karmen, Crime Victims 313 (3rd ed. Wadsworth Publishing Co. 1996).
2. Id. at 315.
3. Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), Legal Remedies for Crime Victims Bulletin, 7.
4. R. Scott Williams and Stephen L. Poer, Tort Liability for Criminal Acts of Third Parties, 56 Ala. Law. 112 (1995).
5. Young v. Huntsville Hospital, 595 So.2d 1386 (Ala. 1992).
6. Id. at 1388 (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 315 (1965)).
7. Id. at 1390.
8. Johnston v. Mr. Mini Mart et al., 744 So. 2d 922, 923 (Ala.Civ.App.1999).
9. Black's Law Dictionary 1312 (6th ed., West 1990). Andrew Karmen, Crime Victims 313 (3rd ed. Wadsworth Publishing Co. 1996).










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Last Updated: March 28, 2011