The Victims’ and Witnesses’ Bill of Rights was passed into South Carolina law in 1984. Our Victim’s Advocate Program ensures that the rights and entitlements provided for victims and witnesses in Horry County are honored by:
Ensuring that victims and witnesses are provided a copy of the police report and advised of their rights and the criminal justice process.
Providing assistance in applying for compensation benefits and other available financial, social services and counseling assistance.
Upon victim’s request, accompaniment to court proceedings and/or providing transportation if needed.
Upon victim’s request, make a reasonable attempt to inform victim of status and progression of case.
The Victim’s Advocate office is available to victims and witnesses of crime in Horry County Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm at every precinct or by telephone at 843-915-8348.
Sarah Kennedy - Victims Advocate Coordinator - 843-915-8115 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Nelson Melendez (Central Precinct, bilingual - Spanish/English) - 843-915-8069 - email@example.com
Willa Johnson-Carter (South Precinct) - 843-915-7971 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Renae Searcy (West Precinct) - 843-915-8061 - email@example.com
Department of Crime Victim Compensation (formerly known as SOVA)
Some frequently asked questions…
Click on the Questions below to see the answers.
What can a victim advocate do for me? What are compensation benefits and how do I get them?
A victim advocate is here to assist you with understanding the judicial process of your case by acting as a liaison, as needed, between you, the officers, detectives, creditor’s and any other representatives from other agencies. The victim advocate will advise you of your rights, as well as, inform you of resources that are available to you. She may also provide you with limited counseling, and can refer you for long-term services when appropriate.
Who can qualify for financial assistance and what are the eligibility requirements for compensation benefits?
Compensation benefits can include medical care, lost wages/support, mental health counseling, funeral/burial (up to $4000.00), and reimbursement for crime related prescription and medical expenses already paid by the victim prior to claim approval. This service is provided through the State Governor's Office Department of Crime Victim Compensation, formerly know as SOVA, www.sova.sc.gov/apps.html). You can apply here at the Victim’s Advocate Office.
As a victim, do I have the right to attend the bond hearing?
If you are a crime victim, an immediate family member of a crime victim, or someone who is paying bills or taking care of a crime victim, you may apply. To be eligible, the crime must have occurred in this state and reported to law enforcement within 48 hours of occurrence, that you were not doing anything illegal at the time of the crime, that you submitted the application within 180 days from the crime date, and when all other insurance and payment sources have been exhausted.
As a victim of Domestic Violence, can I drop the charges against the defendant?
Yes. Upon the defendant(s) arrest, a victim’s advocate will make a reasonable attempt to contact you to advise when the bond hearing is scheduled, providing that you checked ‘yes’ on your victim’s rights form that the law enforcement officer had you sign. You have the right to attend, as well as, make recommendations during any pretrial hearing. At the hearing, you will be given the opportunity to discuss any concerns pertaining to the incident and/or defendant(s) bond. For example, if you were afraid for your safety you would want to present this to the judge to take into consideration.
When a police officer arrives on scene for a domestic violence call, he/she is mandated by the Laws of South Carolina to document the incident appropriately. If probable cause exists, the officer will formally charge the suspect while on scene. However, if there is not enough substantial evidence at this time to support the charge, then the officer must present the facts of the case to a county magistrate to determine whether or not probable cause exists for an arrest. Once the suspect is arrested, there will be a bond hearing to determine the conditions of his/her release that the defendant must adhere to until the trial date. There will be a period of time between the bond hearing and the trial. You, the victim, will have the opportunity to voice your concerns to the judge at the trial.