Criminal & Constitutional Harm FYIs

Criminal & Constitutional Harm Overview

Being harmed by someone else’s criminal behavior or constitutional misconduct can be a harrowing experience. It is absolutely valid for you to have feelings about the harm and to make your feelings known to police, prosecutors, therapists, family and friends. Below is some information that may help you if you find yourself in this situation. 


If you have been harmed by criminal behavior, you have a right to obtain the investigative file once the investigation is no longer ongoing. Under Va. Code § 2.2-3706.1(D), the police must disclose the records to a victim upon request.  


The Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor’s office) has a victim/witness assistance program. You can find more information about it here.  

The Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office also has a victim witness office.  


Some people who have experienced harm may not want to address that harm through the criminal legal system, but still want the person who harmed them to be held accountable. Central Virginia Community Justice provides restorative justice services. You can find more information about them at their website


If you are experiencing a situation where you believe a restraining order may be appropriate, take a look at the VA Court’s informational page about protective orders here and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services' info sheet


If a police officer has violated your constitutional rights, harassed or discriminated against you, you can file a complaint with the Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board (Charlottesville PD only) or with the police/sheriff’s department that oversees that officer. Administrative review processes like these can  be frustrating due to lack of transparency and ultimate officer accountability, but the more the agencies hear about the problematic behavior, the more pressure they face to make changes. The Charlottesville Civilian Oversight Board was started to address concerns with transparency and accountability.


The ACLU has helpful guidance on how to protect against online doxxing and harassment. Check out their guidance here.



Scammers are everywhere today due to our heavy reliance on the internet; it’s important to know what to look out for so you do not become a victim of a scam. You should never pay or transfer any money to someone you do not know or met online. Many scams start with someone calling you and pretending to know you. If you are unsure, you can always tell them that you will call them back after doing some research. If they try to dissuade you from doing so, you should end the encounter immediately. You are welcome to schedule a meeting with SLS to double check if there are any red flags. Some examples of scams include:

1)        Calling pretending to be from your bank to say that your card has been compromised and they need a code to your phone wallet to verify your identity or to send you a new card;

2)        Calling/texting pretending to know you to form a relationship with you resulting in convincing you to invest thousands of dollars into a fake cryptocurrency account;

3)        Calling pretending to be from a government agency and lying that you or the company you work for is under investigation and that you have to pay to make the investigation go away; and

4)        Forming a relationship with you and then convincing you to send intimate photographs and/or videos of yourself which they will then use to blackmail you for money.

If you have been the victim of a scam, you should contact your bank and/or credit card company immediately and your local police department for more assistance. You should not blame yourself for falling victim to the scam; many people experience this situation and the scammers are adept at making themselves sound believable.

For more information, see: FTC’s Guidance on Scams


More Questions?

For specific questions and advice, please fill out an Intake form to request a consultation. Refer to our Request a Consultation Page for more information about eligibility and confidentiality. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and is not meant to advise on any particular legal issue. Laws change every year and it is possible that the information is no longer current or valid. For help with specific legal issues, you should consult an attorney.