Court Programs

Navigating The Family And Criminal Court System

How do I know what to do? We can help you.

Safe Horizon’s Court Programs

Safe Horizon operates over 30 court-based programs throughout the five boroughs. These programs include victim/witness reception centers, supervised visitation programs, mediation services, advocacy, crisis intervention, help with court-ordered restitution, and other legal issues.

Where are we located?

We are located in all five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

What can we do to help you?

We have a diverse program plan that will help you better understand your role in the family and criminal court system, how we can help you and how you can help yourself.

Below are descriptions of our centers:

Criminal Court Complaint Room

The Complaint Room is the initial step in the court process; it is here that a victim of a crime first comes into contact with Safe Horizon court staff and it is the victim's first opportunity to find out about the court system and its legal remedies. Advocacy on behalf of victims in the Complaint Room is critical, since cases decisions made at this time may impact future decision and determinations.

At criminal courts in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx, Safe Horizon staff:

  • Provide crisis intervention counseling and an explanation of the arrest process and your role
  • Provide advocacy for Orders of Protection
  • Explain the court process for each part including plea-bargaining and sentencing, court dates, court appearances, bail, arraignment and other issues
  • Offer practical help, such as, emergency housing transfers, food coupons, transportation, emergency clothing and food, referrals and lock changes
  • Safety planning for future incidents and emotional support
  • Explain your possible eligibility for Crime Victim Board compensation and help you with the application process
  • Provide a safe, emotionally supportive space for you to wait for any court appearances, which means avoiding offenders until cases are called

Family Court Petition Room

Services in the Family Court Petition Room are similar to those offered in the Criminal Court Complaint Room. In addition, we offer:

  • Help you prepare a family offense petition to ensure that information regarding domestic violence is included in the petition
  • Explain the differences between Criminal and Family Court proceedings

Family and Criminal Court Reception Centers

In both the Family and Criminal Court Centers it is of utmost importance that you feel safe and protected after experiencing a crime. We are here to help you during this time.

  • Provide a safe, emotionally supportive space for you to wait for any court hearings, which means avoiding offenders until cases are called
  • Case managers provide crisis intervention counseling and an explanation of the arrest process and your role
  • Provide advocacy for Orders of Protection
  • Offer practical help when appropriate, such as, emergency housing transfers, food coupons, transportation, emergency clothing and food, referrals and lock changes
  • Explain the court process for each part including plea-bargaining and sentencing, court dates, court appearances, bail, arraignment and other issues
  • Safety planning for future incidents and emotional support
  • Explain your possible eligibility for Crime Victim Board compensation and help you with the application process

Restitution for Crime Victims

Safe Horizon staff can help understand the restitution program and review your options. We are here to help you.

You may receive restitution (payment) for such costs as:

  • Emergency transportation to a hospital, medication and medical supplies, replacement of eyeglasses hearing aids, or rental of physical therapy equipment (e.g., wheelchairs)
  • Medical costs
  • Costs of replacing locks or relocation expenses
  • Cost for damaged or lost personal property
  • Fraud
  • Theft of service (e.g. non-payment of services)

In Criminal Court, we advocate on your behalf with assistant district attorneys. Additionally, to protect you from further contact and possible re-victimization by the offender, we are responsible for the collection and disbursement of restitution payments.

You do not have to interact with the offender to receive your restitution.

Family and Criminal Court Children’s Centers

Safe Horizon operates six centers in the five boroughs. A day in court can be stressful and frightening for children involved in a court case. Children may be exposed to sensitive matters that are discussed openly in the courtroom (e.g., abuse, domestic violence). The presence of children can also interfere with the ability of court employees to perform their job efficiently.

Both children and adults benefit from Safe Horizon's Children's Centers, which provides:

  • Free, supportive, educational child care for child victims and witnesses and other children of adults who must appear in court
  • Parent education and referrals on child care programs, Head Start, child health and nutrition, and developmental care

Family Court Supervised Visitation Program

In the Brooklyn and the Bronx Family Courts we provide safe, supervised visits between children and their non-custodial parents, as well as individual and group counseling for children and their guardians. Our program provides:

  • Case managers that assess each child's well being, advise parents on problems resulting from separation, and help families develop long-term visitation agreements
  • We maintain contact with the Judge, in order to keep the court informed of the progress and cooperation of each family member in the program. The court relies on this feedback in order to make visitation and custody decisions that are in the best interest of the children.
  • Supervised visitation when ordered by a judge is provided in a safe and child-oriented environment
  • Supportive services and referrals for families in the program

You can also get help at one of our Community Program locations.

Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
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