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Sometimes, when a crime happens to you, you may feel scared, embarrassed, unsafe or alone. These feelings might be very strong if someone you know, live with, or trust has hurt you. Sometimes, when people experience sexual abuse (such as being raped, touched in places where you don’t want to be touched or made to do things you do not want to do) they may not know what to do. You have rights if something bad has happened to you. This document will help you understand what rights you have.

Who is allowed to exercise these rights?

If you have been hurt by a crime that makes you a “victim of crime.” A crime is something that breaks the law. Examples of crime are:

  • Theft – when someone has taken something from you that does not belong to them.
  • Assault – when someone has hurt your body. For example, they hit you, pushed you or cut you.
  • Sexual Assault – when someone has raped you. When someone has made you do something sexual that you did not want to do.
  • Harassment – when someone is always making you feel unsafe by what they do, such as yelling at you, calling you names or threatening you.

You can tell the police that a crime has happened to you. Any person who has been hurt by a crime and tells the police has these rights.

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1. You have the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity.

The Constitution of Ohio states that you must be treated fairly, with dignity and respect. You have the right to be told what is going on with you. You have the right to be safe. You have these rights so you can participate in the criminal justice process.

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2. You have the right to an interpreter if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

You have the right to make the choice if you have an interpreter or not. You can ask for the interpreter at any time. You do not have to pay for your interpreter, and your friends and family don’t have to be your interpreters. You do not have to write things down instead of getting an interpreter.

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3. You have the right to choose to tell the police.

If you tell someone at a hospital that you have been sexually assaulted or hurt, the law says that the hospital must tell the police. However, the hospital should not tell the police your name if you don’t want them to. You have the right to choose if you want to tell the police what has happened to you. The hospital should tell you about this. They will give you written information about this and also tell you about it in person. The hospital will then give you an exam.

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4. You have the right to not be given a polygraph, voice stress analyzer, or other truth-telling tests.

The police and hospital cannot make you take any tests to prove that you are telling the truth. These tests might include tests called polygraph tests or voice stress tests. You do not have to take any of these tests. The police must look into what happened to you even if you do not take these tests.

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5. You have rights during the exam after a sexual assault.

If someone has sexually assaulted you, the hospital can perform an exam. You have the right to say no to the exam or any part of the exam. You also have the right to say no if you are offered any medication or treatment. You have the right to have someone with you during the exam if you want. This person can be anyone, such as a family member or friend. This person is also allowed to be there when the police talk to you. You have the right to have the same exam as a person who does not have disabilities. This means that the hospital must give you accommodations if you need them. Accommodations may include an interpreter or assistive technology.

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6. You have the right to be told about your case and talk with the prosecutor.

If you decide to tell the police what has happened to you, they will give you information on your rights and resources. After you tell the police what has happened, they have to look into what happened to you. This means that they will talk to other people who may have seen what happened, they will talk to the person who you said hurt you, and they may talk to other people, including the people at the hospital. You have the right to speak with the person in charge of looking into what happened to you. You also have the right to talk to the prosecutor. These people should give you information about what is happening with your case. The law (ORC 2930.04) says that if the person who has hurt you is arrested, released or escaped, then the police have to tell you about it.

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7. You have the right to a lawyer and a personal representative.

You have the right to a lawyer. You can have a personal representative. A personal representative is someone who can do things for you on your behalf, such as speak to lawyers. If you choose to have a personal representative, they will see all of the private information about your case, even if it is something that is only for you. You can choose a trusted family member or an advocate to serve as your personal representative. (Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2930.02)

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8. You have the right to have your personal property returned to you.

While the police are looking into what has happened to you, they may need to collect information. This information can include things that you own that you want back, like your clothing that the nurses look at. Once these things are not needed for your case, you should get them back.

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9. You have the right to be safe.

No one should threaten you or make you feel unsafe. If you are threatened or feel unsafe, you should tell the police right away. You can get a protection order. A protection order is when a judge tells someone to stay away from you and not talk to you.

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10. You have the right to attend the trial and tell the court how the crime hurt you.

You have the right to be there when there are hearings or a trial. You have the right to bring a support person with you to any hearings or a trial. Sometimes, a judge might decide that you being at a hearing or a trial is not fair. If that happens, you will not be allowed to go. The judge must tell you that you are not allowed to be there and give you the reason why. You have the right to tell what has happened to you and how it hurt you. You can also have your representative tell what has happened to you.

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11. You have the right to participate in these hearings and cannot get fired from your job.

Your boss is not allowed to punish you if you need time off of work to go to a hearing or trial. Your boss does not have to pay you for your time off. Your boss may have to pay you for your time off if someone at work has hurt you or if what happened to you happened while you were at work. In this case, your boss cannot refuse to pay you on time or pay you less money when you have to miss work for the hearings. You also cannot get in trouble at work if you want to go to a hearing. If your boss does any of these things to you, they may be punished. (ORC 2151.211; 2939.121; 2945.451; 2930.18)

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12. You have the right to apply for victims’ compensation.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office may be able to give you money to help pay for things that you have paid for because of a crime. Victims compensation is money that is given to victims of crime to help them after someone has hurt them. You have the right to fill out a form for this money.

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13. You have the right to use your rights.

If you have a question about your rights, or if you think that your rights have been violated, you can call Disability Rights Ohio at 800-282-9181 and select Option 2. We can help you understand your rights and work with you to make you can use your rights.

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