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Juvenile Services: Victim Assistance Unit

  • Tarrant County is concerned when one of its citizens becomes a victim of crime. Professionals are available to provide assistance to victims and their families through the aftermath of crime and to help them understand the juvenile justice system.
  • This Web site is designed to help victims and their family members access resources and exercise rights provided by law to victims of juvenile crime.

For more information, please click the links below.

Mission Statement

  • To provide comprehensive and appropriate services to victims of juvenile crime

Core Values

  • To promote accountability and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders by increasing their awareness, through victim statements, of the harm caused to others by their actions;
  • To provide victims the right to be informed, heard and assisted, as requested, through such specific acts as pre- and post-court counseling, information on the juvenile justice system, case status and notification, court accompaniment, preparation of information for the court, referral services, crisis intervention, and separate waiting rooms.
  • To advocate for consideration of victims' needs, through contact with other agencies, the courts, correctional systems and lawmakers;
  • To provide a fair and responsive treatment of victims without compromising offender rehabilitation as a beneficial goal of juvenile justice.

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Program Description

The Victim Assistance Unit for Tarrant County Juvenile Services was established to:

  • Ensure victims are afforded their rights including safety concerns
  • Provide compensation for loss
  • Provide support during juvenile justice proceedings
  • Provide victim impact panel for detained youth
  • Refer victims to community resources and support services.

A Victim Assistance Officer notifies each victim by telephone and/or in writing within 24 working hours of case referral to the department. Victim Assistance Officers:

  • Attend both detention and other hearings to express victim concerns
  • Assist in the establishment and recovery of restitution
  • Provide resource referrals, assistance, advocacy and support to victims

Services Provided

Services provided through the Victim Assistance Unit include:

  • Information about the juvenile system
  • Explanation of victim rights
  • Case status
  • Court accompaniment
  • Victim waiting area
  • Mediation services
  • Victim Impact Panels
  • Information on Crime Victims' Compensation
  • Referrals for other services
  • Restitution
  • Victim Impact Statements

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Financial Restitution

Financial restitution requires that a written agreement be activated which details a plan for restoring monetary loss to the victim of a youth's offense. This may occur as a voluntary component in diverted cases, or it may be specified by court order as a condition of probation. Restoring financial loss to a victim or to the community is regarded as a therapeutic event in a program of rehabilitation. It also provides a concrete, non-litigious avenue for victims to recover a portion of their loss.

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Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation

Juvenile Victim-Offender mediation focuses on reaching an agreement between victims of juvenile crime and juvenile offenders. Generally present for mediation are the victim, juvenile, juvenile's parents, and the mediator.

Juvenile Victim-Offender mediation provides both the victim and the offender an opportunity to ask and answer direct questions, describe their disputed position, discuss their differences, and search for a settlement. The victim also has the benefit of participating directly in the case disposition, where the offender is held accountable and personally responsible. The offender on the other hand has the opportunity to see their victim as a real person that has been traumatized to some extent as a result of the offense.

Tarrant County contracts with Dispute Resolution Services to provide mediators.

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Crime Victim Rights

"Victim" means a person who as the result of the delinquent conduct of a child suffers a pecuniary loss or personal injury or harm. (Texas Family Code)

As a victim of juvenile crime, close relative of a deceased victim, or guardian of a victim, you have rights regarding your safety and to provide you information. These rights include:

  1. The right to receive from law enforcement agencies adequate protection from harm and threats of harm arising from cooperation with prosecution efforts;
  2. The right to have the court or person appointed by the court take the safety of the victim or the victim's family into consideration as an element in determining whether the juvenile should be detained before the juvenile's conduct is adjudicated;
  3. The right, if requested, to be informed of relevant court proceedings, including appellate proceedings, and to be informed in a timely manner if those court proceedings have been canceled or rescheduled;
  4. The right to be informed, when requested, by the court or a person appointed by the court concerning the procedures in the juvenile justice system, including general procedures relating to the preliminary investigation and deferred prosecution of a case and the appeal of the case;
  5. The right to provide pertinent information to a juvenile court conducting a disposition hearing concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim's family by testimony, written statement, or any other manner before the court renders its disposition;
  6. The right to receive information regarding compensation to victims as provided by subchapter B, Chapter 56, Code of Criminal Procedure, including information related to the costs that may be compensated under that Act and the amount of compensation, eligibility for compensation, and procedures for application for compensation under that Act;
  7. The right for sexual assault survivors to be informed about law enforcement's responsibility to pay for medical expenses related to the gathering of forensic evidence, and the right, on request, to counseling and testing regarding AIDS and HIV infection;
  8. The right, when requested, to referral to available social service agencies that may offer additional assistance;
  9. The right to be informed, upon request, of procedures for release under supervision or transfer of the person to the custody of the pardons and paroles division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for parole, to participate in the release or transfer for parole process, to be notified, if requested, of release or transfer for parole proceedings concerning the person, to provide to the Texas Youth Commission for inclusion in the person's file information to be considered by the commission before the release under supervision or transfer for parole of the person, and to be notified, if requested, of the person's release or transfer for parole;
  10. The right to be provided with a waiting area, separate or secure from other witnesses, including the juvenile alleged to have committed the conduct and relatives of the juvenile, before and during court proceedings;
  11. The right to prompt return of any property of the victim that is held by a law enforcement agency or the attorney for the state as evidence when the property is no longer required for that purpose;
  12. The right to have the attorney for the state notify the employer of the victim, if requested, of the necessity of the victim's cooperation and testimony in a proceeding that may necessitate the absence of the victim from work for good cause;
  13. The right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the conduct of the juvenile, subject to the approval of the judge;
  14. Any other right appropriate to the victim that a victim of criminal conduct has under Article 56.02, Code of Criminal Procedure.

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Crime Victims' Compensation

As a crime victim, you have a right to find out about the Crime Victims' Compensation program. Administered by the Office of the Attorney General, the Crime Victims' Compensation program helps eligible victims of violent crime by providing financial assistance to help cover certain expenses related to crime.

Reimbursement for property damage or loss is not an eligible expense.

A brochure explaining the Crime Victims' Compensation program in detail and an application for awards are available from Victim Assistance or by calling 1-800-983-9933 or can be downloaded at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/ag_publications/pdfs/cvcapplication.pdf

The Crime Victims' Compensation Web site is https://www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/about_comp.shtml.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. May I appear in court for my case?
    Yes, one of the rights you have is to appear in court, this includes detention, adjudication or sentencing hearings. If testimony is required there may be times you have to wait outside the courtroom.
  2. What if my property was stolen or damaged?
    You can request reimbursement from the juvenile. This can be done either through a court order or a voluntary contract from the juvenile. You will need to submit written estimates and documentation of your out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. I am afraid of further contact with the juvenile, what can I do?
    Stay in touch with your victim assistance officer. In some cases the court may issue a no-contact order. Call the police if in immediate danger.
  4. It has been several weeks since the offense and I have not heard from a victim assistance officer.
    Please contact us. It takes time for the police department to complete their investigation, and our department can take no action until the police report is received. It is important to stay in touch with the victim assistance officer regardless of where your case is in the process.
  5. Can I request assistance for my medical bills?
    Yes, two ways are most common; you may request restitution from the juvenile; or file a request with the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund.
  6. Does the juvenile receive help?
    Each juvenile is thoroughly assessed to help determine the needs of the youth and family. Juvenile Services offers a number of community services to aid juveniles to avoid repeat offenses.
  7. Is counseling available?
    Yes. Though victim assistance officers do not provide direct, on-going counseling, they can refer you to other agencies for assistance.
  8. Do all cases go to court?
    No, many cases referred to the juvenile system are diverted to alternative resources, based on an assessment of the offense and the child and family situation. Your victim assistance officer can let you know the status of your case.

Please contact us if you have additional questions.

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Forms

Download the Victim Impact Statement here

Download "Your Rights as a Victim of Juvenile Crime" brochure here.

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Contact Us

Kelly Willis
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
2701 Kimbo Road
Fort Worth, TX 76111
kwillis@tarrantcounty.com
Phone: (817) 838-4600 ext 441
Fax: (817) 795-7800

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

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