SafeHouse Center
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Legal Advocacy Services

SafeHouse’s Legal Advocacy Program is designed to provide assistance and support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as they go through the criminal or civil legal system. This includes: matters involving criminal charges against the batterer; matters involving criminal charges against the survivor; obtaining and enforcing personal protection orders; pursuing divorce and child custody issues; landlord/tenant issues; and other matters.

The Legal Advocates do not act as attorneys for survivors, although at times the positions are filled by staff that have obtained their law school degrees and/or have been licensed as attorneys. All Legal Advocates are extensively trained and supervised.

SafeHouse Center provides legal advocacy services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. A SafeHouse legal advocate is available to survivors to discuss the legal process and to give them information that will help survivors make informed decisions about whether to engage in the court process. Legal Advocates are available for court accompaniment to preliminary exams, trials, and sentencings.

You can also arrange to meet or speak with an advocate outside of court regarding how you are feeling, the legal process and possible outcomes. An advocate can inform you of your legal rights and, if necessary, advocate on your behalf with police, prosecutors, and others in the criminal justice system. If there is a conviction, a legal advocate can work with you on writing a Victim Impact Statement, which can be read or submitted at the sentencing hearing. It is our priority to support you in whatever decisions you make about engaging with the legal system and to assist you in identifying your rights and options as a survivor.

Services provided by Legal Advocates include:

  • Acting as a liaison, as an “interpreter” of legal jargon and proceedings, and a personal advocate for survivors in court proceedings. This means explaining to the survivor as necessary what unfamiliar legal terms mean, letting the survivor know what she can expect to happen next in the legal process, and advocating for certain actions or responses with prosecutors, police, attorneys, probation officers as requested by the survivors;
  • Accompanying the survivor to court proceedings within Washtenaw County (and occasionally outside of Washtenaw County);
  • Providing assistance in: filing for crime victims’ compensation, preparing victim impact statements for sentencing, and preparing applications for Personal Protection Orders;
  • Providing technical assistance to police, prosecutors, judges, probation officers, and/or attorneys (consistent with confidentiality) regarding dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault, safety planning, etc.
  • Maintaining records of all survivor contact and court activity, compiling and entering data into a database for statistical reporting and analysis.