FLINT — Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said he wants the community to know his office provides a variety of services to victims of crime through his office’s victim advocacy unit which is partially financed by a grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Leyton said for many victims the initial crime is only the start of what can be an uncertain, unfamiliar and long ordeal as the criminal case makes its way through the court system and the victim tries to regroup and get their life back on track.
“Whether a person is a surviving family member in a homicide case, the victim of a home invasion or a violent assault, the ensuing criminal justice process is often unchartered territory for victims,” he said. “I want the community to know that we have a staff of professional, caring, and committed social workers and support staff who are here to help victims in a variety of ways,” he said.
Leyton said assistance from his crime victim’s services unit comes in a variety of forms from the simple to the more complex.
“Each victim is different in terms of their needs once a case gets into the court system,” he said. “For some, they just need a guiding hand, someone to tell them when the next court date is, where to park, what courtroom to report to, etc.”
Leyton said other victims need much more than that.
“Imagine being the victim in a home invasion or the victim of a violent assault and you’re being asked by one of my assistant prosecutors to stand up in a courtroom and face the person who has done harm to you; it’s not an easy situation even for the bravest of souls,” he said. “That’s where my victim advocates really come into play; they offer a shoulder to lean on, someone to stand side by side with victims and give them the support they need to get through the process.”
Some victims may qualify for victim compensation under certain criteria, said Leyton. This program may help pay out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost earnings, funeral bills, counseling, or other expenses for people who have been harmed as the direct result of a crime.
“We are very fortunate to have been selected by the State of Michigan to participate in a Victim Navigator Pilot Program to assist victims with applying for victim compensation funds,” he said.
If you are a victim of a crime and have suffered financial losses as a result, Leyton encourages you to contact his Victim Navigator to learn more about the state’s victim compensation program by calling 810-237-6136. — G.G.