We are both 21 year old college students coming home from work at approx. 8:30 pm two nights ago. We asked a woman to hold the door for us as I have a sprained ankle. She proceeded to start yelling. My girlfriend (yes we're a lesbian couple) proceeded to say "My girlfriend is hurt, I just need to get in the elevator". Once the doors shut she attacked us, busting my friends lip, scratches everywhere, ripped out a ton of my hair. I just need to know what should happen next? What do I do at the Magistrate's Hearing and do I need a lawyer present? Is this a hate crime?
Is it worth following through with the charges if it means she will get my name? I'm afraid there will be retaliation. I am a young girl living alone in an apartment in the city. If this is only going to be a he-said-she-said ordeal because there was no witness and mostly superficial wounds, is it worth it? I know nothing of the legal system, haven't been arrested, haven't even gotten a speeding ticket. I just started my senior year of college this week and this is all just very confusing and honestly, scary.
Criminal charges are brought by the State. The Prosecutor is your attorney. You would have to tell the detectives assigned what was said to determine whether your sexual orientation motivated the woman's violence. If it did, it is probably a hate crime. That determination can ONLY be made by the Prosecutor. You can and should seek restitution for you medical care and any other loss such as ruined clothing or lost wages. The judge in a criminal matter can make such an award. Good luck.
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General Practice Lawyer
As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that you ask great questions -- and you have fair -- and not unheard of -- concerns.
Sit down with the victim's advocate in the prosecutor's office. Explain your concerns. Plenty of cases go the distance on "she said, she said" testimony and credibility is at issue. Did you make this up? Remember that you get to tell your story and in all likelihood, the defendant will not due to their 5th amendment privilege.
You do what you can to hold this complete loser accountable. It takes courage and you can do it. As for the hate crime question, the perpetrator nees some knowledge of your situation. Without it, her actions cannot be based on your sezual orientation.
In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.
Criminal Defense Attorney
How did you learn the identity of the woman to name her in a complaint? Did you call the police? If the police didn't see what happened, bur saw you and the woman, then that's why he set it for a clerk's hearing. You are a victim. You don't need a lawyer there, you just need to be there to show that, if this goes forward, you will cooperate with the prosecution.
A victim/witness advocate can explain your role in the process and will be your contact in the DA's office after the complaint issues.
Providing users with information is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. However, if in reading my response, you are interested in retaining me to represent you, please do not hesitate to contact me.