Hope and Legal Help for Victims of Crime

Posted on November 2, 2017



South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) was again awarded a significant grant by the SC Attorney General’s Office under the Victims of Crimes Act Program (VOCA) for the 2017-2018 grant year.  Under VOCA, SCLS can represent victims of crime in civil legal matters related to the crime or its aftermath.  A “crime victim” is defined as a person who has suffered physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime.  Victims of elder abuse also may be represented.  Elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment of older persons through physical, sexual, or psychological violence, neglect, or economic exploitation and fraud.

With recent amendments to the program, SCLS may now provide services to protect a victim’s safety or privacy even beyond the immediate aftermath of the crime.  SCLS attorneys funded through VOCA may provide services that include responding to the emotional, psychological, or physical needs of crime victims; assisting victims to stabilize their lives after victimization; assisting victims to understand and participate in the criminal justice system; and restoring a measure of safety and security for the victim.  Victims may receive comprehensive legal assistance in custody, divorce, immigration, and housing cases. As a part of the recent changes, we can also do motions to expunge a conviction and other legal actions reasonably necessary as a direct result of the crime.  Attorneys also are able to provide legal education presentations and outreach to victims of crime.

SCLS currently has 11 VOCA funded full time-equivalent attorneys and 9 paralegals.  At least one such attorney and paralegal are housed in each of our offices.  The major sources of referral of cases to our VOCA attorneys are the domestic violence shelters throughout the state and victims’ advocates from law enforcement agencies and solicitors’ offices.

Victims of crime may get in contact with an SCLS attorney through a direct referral from their victims’ advocate or other source; walking into one of our 9 statewide offices; online intake at https://www.lawhelp.org/sc/online-intake; or calling our statewide telephone intake service at 1-888-346-5592, Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Al Parker
Deputy Director of Grants & Compliance

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