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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

What should I do if I believe an elderly person is being abuse?
I know of a child who may be abused. To whom do I report this?
I am a victim of domestic violence and I want to take my offender to court. Where do I go?
What is the difference between criminal court and family court?
What is an Order of Protection?
What are the types of Orders of Protection?
Are victims of crime entitled to compensation from the crime committed against them?
I believe that I was victim of fraud regarding a company I hired. Can the District Attorney’s Office begin an investigation into a company that ‘ripped’ me off?
My personal property or vehicle is being held as evidence. Will I be able to get it back?
I’ve received a jury duty notice. What do I have to do?
What court can I go to if I want to sue someone, either a person or a business, for money?
What’s the difference between civil court and criminal court?
I received a subpoena. What do I have to do?
Can I sue the defendant if he is arrested?
Can I have the DA’s office represent me if I sue the defendant in civil court?
I am a witness in a criminal case. Do I have to hire an attorney?
I am a victim of a crime. Can I speak to the judge at sentencing?
If a defendant is sentenced to state prison, do I have a right to speak to the parole board?
My neighbors sell drugs out of their house. What do I have to do to report this?
How can I report cruelty to animals in New York City?
How can I monitor a case this is pending in the courts?
I was the victim of a crime many years ago. Can the offender still be prosecuted?
What is a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT)?


What should I do if I believe an elderly person is being abused?

The New York City Department of Aging has a unit that addresses crimes against the elderly. The number for their Elder Abuse Crime Victims Unit is (212) 442-3103.

Community Agency for senior Citizens, (CASC), is also a local resource to contact regarding crimes against the elderly.  CASC can be reached by calling (718) 981-6226. CASC has staff members who assist senior victims with a variety of issues and problems.

While abuse may be reported to the Sex Crimes/Special Victims Bureau of the District Attorney’s office, if you witness a serious life threatening situation, immediately call 911 for assistance.

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I know of a child who may be abused. To whom do I report this?

The State of New York has a 24-hour child abuse hotline to accept reports of child abuse from the public.  The phone number for this hotline is 1-800-342-3720.  If you witness a serious life-threatening situation, immediately call 911 for assistance.

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I am a victim of domestic violence and I want to take my offender to court. Where do I go?

In New York City, some domestic violence cases can go to both Criminal Court and Family Court, while others can go only to Criminal Court.  The following people can take their cases to either or both courts:

  • People who are legally married or used to be married to each other
  • People who have a child in common.
  • People who are related by blood or adoption.
  • People who are, or have been involved in an intimate relationship. (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend, domestic partners, same sex couples or other relationship determined by the court to be intimate) For more information on Family Court you may visit: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/family/faqs_domesticviolence.shtml#op1

If you do not fit into one of these categories, and you want to file a domestic violence complaint for action in Criminal Court, you must first file a report with your local police precinct.

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What is the difference between criminal court and family court?

The purpose of Criminal Court is to determine whether a person has committed a crime.  If found guilty, a defendant can be punished and may have a criminal record.  Cases in Criminal court are prosecuted by our office, the Office of the Richmond County District Attorney.  The District Attorney, not the victim, decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed. The victim is not a party to the action.  Rather, the victim is a witness for the prosecution.

In Family Court, it is the victim (call petitioner) who begins the case by filing a petition with the clerk.  The abuser (called the respondent) will not receive a criminal record from a Family Court proceeding.  The Family Court may issue an order of protection while the case proceeds and as a part of the final resolution of the case.  The Family Court can also resolve living arrangement issues such as custody and child support.  The telephone number for Family Court on Staten Island is (718) 390-5460 and it is located at 100 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301.

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What is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is issued by a judge as part of a court case.  It requires a defendant to do or not do certain things, such as stay away from your home, school and job. It can also require the defendant not to assault, threaten or harass you.  The order may extend to other members of your family, including your children.  Both Criminal Court and Family Court can issue orders of protection.

A Criminal Court Order of Protection can only be issued after an arrest is made.  It is a crime to violate an order of protection no matter which court issues it.  The police will arrest a person who violates either a Family Court or Criminal Court order of protection.
If you are a victim or witness and feel you are in danger at any time, you should call 911. You should let the police know that you have an Order of Protection—even if you do not have a copy of the order with you when you call.
If you received an Order of Protection in the mail, and would like more information, please call 718-876-6300 and ask to speak with a Victim Advocate.

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What are the types of Orders of Protection?

Temporary Orders of Protection are generally issued at the time of arraignment and are extended at each court date until a final order is issued or the order is no longer continued.

Final Orders of Protection are issued by the judge at the conclusion of the court case.  The orders are not permanent but range in duration from 6 months to 8 years.  After the expiration date the order cannot be extended or renewed without a new court case.
Full Orders of Protection are also known as “exclusionary restraining orders.”  This orders the defendant to stay away from the complainant and his/her home, school or place of business. The defendant must also refrain from any abuse, harassment or threatening behavior against the complainant.

Limited Orders of Protection are similar to full orders of protection with the exception that the defendant can have contact with the complainant but may not assault, threaten, menace or harass the complainant or his/her family.

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Are victims of crime entitled to compensation from the crime committed against them?

Crime victims who have suffered injuries are eligible to have all out-of-pocket medical and mental health expenses covered by the New York State Crime Victims Board. This provides victims with life-long coverage.  You may also be reimbursed for damaged clothing or eyeglasses, travel expenses to related medical appointments, or when subpoenaed to appear in court.  The Crime Victims Board may also provide emergency assistance in some cases. Senior Citizens and minors are eligible for additional services.

Very important: Innocent victims are eligible for compensation regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, and even if there has been no arrest.

Our victim advocates are here to assist all victims with filing claims, and work closely with the Crime Victims Board staff. Claim forms may also be found online at: http://www.cvb.state.ny.us/Files/English_NY_CVB.pdf

Please call us at 718-876-6300 and ask to speak with a victim advocate for filing assistance and information.

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I believe that I was victim of fraud regarding a company I hired. Can the District Attorney’s Office begin an investigation into a company that ‘ripped’ me off?

The most appropriate place to lodge an official complaint against a company is the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Consumer Affairs licenses a variety of business and services in New York City, including catering establishments, amusement arcades, debt collection agencies, electronics stores, garages and parking lots, home improvement contractors, Laundromats, and ticket brokers.  These are just a sample of the types of Businesses regulated by Consumer Affairs.  The agency licenses 44,000 businesses in 65 categories and regularly mediates problems and disputes between consumers and merchants. For further information, the New York City Dept. of Consumer Affairs can be reached at 42 Broadway, New York, NY 10004, (212) 487-4444. The agency also has a Staten Island Office located at Staten Island Borough Hall, room 422, Staten Island, NY 10301, (718) 816-2280/81.

If Consumer Affairs is not the appropriate agency to address your complaint, please do not hesitate to contact our office and ask to speak to someone in the Investigations Bureau .

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My personal property or vehicle is being held as evidence. Will I be able to get it back?

Most property held as evidence is stored by the NYPD property clerk.  In most cases the District Attorney can provide a document requesting the release of property or vehicles back to the owner after a case is closed or the evidence is no longer needed.  At that time, you may present this document to the Property Clerk.

If you have been the victim of a crime, we will do our best to request the release of your property as soon as possible.  Please call 718-556-7142 for more information.  It is best to have the Defendant’s name, Assistant District Attorney’s name, or docket number ready.

Defendants in Criminal Court or Supreme Court cases should have their attorney contact the District Attorney’s office to arrange for a property release.

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I’ve received a jury duty notice. What do I have to do?

The District Attorney’s office has no control over the issuance of jury duty notices, including those for service on a grand jury.  For more information on jury service in New York State, the New York State Unified Court System maintains an informative website at: http://www.nyjuror.gov

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What court can I go to if I want to sue someone, either a person or a business, for money?

Civil Court is primarily designed for the settlement of disputes between parties.  Depending on the amount, you can go to Small Claims Court which is an informal court where individuals can sue for money only, up to $3,000, without a lawyer.  For example, if you feel a person or business damaged something you own, you may sue that person or business for the monetary amount of your damages.  To begin a case in Small Claims Court, you must go to Small Claims Court to file a statement of you claim.  The Small Claims Court on Staten Island is located 927 Castleton Ave.  For further information on how to file a claim, you should contact Small Claims Court at (718) 390-5421 or online at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/smallclaims/index.shtml

In addition to Small Claims Court, Civil Court is also the place where private civil claims against a person or an organization are adjudicated.  Civil Court is also located at 927 Castleton Ave. and for further information contact (718) 390.5421.

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What’s the difference between civil court and criminal court?

Civil cases involving matters up to $ 25, 000 are handled in Civil Court and criminal matters are handled in Criminal Court.  Civil cases are cases involving two private parties, whereas in a criminal case, it is the People of the particular jurisdiction that are bringing the charges.

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I received a subpoena. What do I have to do?

You cannot disregard a Grand Jury subpoena or a subpoena signed by a judge.  You must appear at the location you are directed to at the time you are directed to.  Failure to do so is criminal contempt.

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Can I sue the defendant if he is arrested?

Yes, there is nothing that precludes a victim from suing a defendant in civil court.

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Can I have the DA’s office represent me if I sue the defendant in civil court?

No, the DA’s office will not represent you.  As a civil case concerns an issue involving two private parties, the DA’s office cannot represent you.  You will have to hire a private attorney.

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I am a witness in a criminal case. Do I have to hire an attorney?

No, you do not. The DA’s office represents the People, which includes the victims and witnesses to a crime.  The prosecutor will be the attorney who presents the case to a Grand Jury and brings it to trial.  The prosecutor will make all legal decisions that have to be made.  A private attorney cannot fulfill this responsibility on behalf of the prosecutor.

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I am a victim of a crime. Can I speak to the judge at sentencing?

Yes, you can. Although being a victim of a crime is frustrating in and of itself, unfortunately, the criminal justice system can cause even greater frustration to some.  While the case is pending, you cannot speak to the judge as there are rules prohibiting this type of communication.  However, at sentencing, you have the right to speak and address any issue that is relevant to sentencing.  You can address the Court and the defendant will be there.  This right is pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law Section 380.50.

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If a defendant is sentenced to state prison, do I have a right to speak to the parole board?

If you are the victim of the crime, you do.  If the defendant is sentenced to an indeterminate period of incarceration, the New York State Division of Parole will determine if they should be granted parole.  The Parole board will request comments from the District Attorney’s Office as well as any victims of the crime.  Any victim who wishes to address the Parole board may write to the Victim Impact Statement Unit, NYS Division of Parole, 97 Central Avenue, Albany, New York, 12206.

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My neighbors sell drugs out of their house. What do I have to do to report this?

Report this to the police. There is a narcotics bureau within the police department that handles narcotics and related offenses.  Your complaint can lead to surveillance of the location and enough information for the police to get a warrant.  As no one should have to reside near drug dealers, we encourage you to report criminal activity.  Do not fear repercussion as if a warrant is granted, your identity will not be made known to the offender.

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How can I report cruelty to animals in New York City?

Abuse of any kind should be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. Cruelty situations involving animals in New York City should be reported to the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement department at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4450, or humanel@aspca.org.

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How can I monitor a case this is pending in the courts?

The New York State Unified Court System maintains an informative website called “WebCrims” that will allow you to track any pending criminal prosecution in Richmond County.  For more information, please refer to: http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcrim_attorney/AttorneyWelcome

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I was the victim of a crime many years ago. Can the offender still be prosecuted?

In New York, someone who commits a crime may still be prosecuted within 5 years after the commission of a felony (a serious crime punishable by more than one year in jail), and 2 years after the commission of a misdemeanor (a crime punishable by less than one year in jail).  There are some exceptions for child abuse and forcible rape.  When you report the crime, you will be informed whether the statute of limitations has expired.

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What is a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT)?

At the time of an arrest, sometimes the police will issues a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) to a defendant in cases such as a non-violent crime against property.  The defendant is still arrested and brought to the police precinct so that their “rap sheet” may be reviewed.  If the defendant has no outstanding warrants for their arrest and the current offense is a minor charge, the police have the discretion to issue a DAT, and release the defendant.  The DAT is a document that advises the defendant to appear in court on a specified date and time for his/her arraignment on the charged offense.