Legal Advocacy: We’re with you, every step of the way

Legal Advocacy: We’re with you, every step of the way

KCSARC’s Legal Advocacy team is the liaison between survivors and our criminal justice system. The Advocacy program assists survivors of sexual assault and their families as they navigate one of the most complex systems and processes they’ll ever face. KCSARC provides 90% of sexual assault legal advocacy services in King County, working across three different court systems and 39 police jurisdictions.

It is the largest, most comprehensive community-based legal advocacy program in the country, offering confidential services in English, Spanish and Mandarin at no cost to victims. Last year, our Legal Advocates walked alongside more than 2,400 victims to provide the support and assistance they needed after a sexual assault.

KCSARC advocates help their clients wherever they are at in the process; from helping clients understand their rights and choices, to guiding a client through a report to the police, or even safety planning years later when the defendant is released from prison. Advocates offer support, keep their client informed, and help clients create safety plans.

The criminal justice system presents many challenges and barriers that often discourage victims from coming forward or continuing in their case.

“After the initial report of sexual assault is made to law enforcement and the case is assigned to a detective for investigation, the first step is for the victim to be interviewed in detail,” said Carolyn Gray, Legal Advocate Supervisor at KCSARC.

“This is completed by a child interviewer or a detective for teen and adult clients; then as a case goes through the process, there are other interviews that may occur or meetings that may happen,” she said.

This can be a lengthy process.

“The fastest I ever had a case get to trial was seven months and the slowest was 4+ years, and I hope that never happens again,” Gray said.

“Eighteen to 24 months is the average amount of time that it took a case to get to trial pre-COVID-19, but we let clients know the majority of cases don’t go to trial, and instead, are resolved through plea negotiations,” she said.

While the outcome and how long a case will take is often unknown, KCSARC’s advocates are with victims every step of the way, whether it is to help them secure a protection order or connect them with additional services such as emergency housing, counseling and/or parent education.

Megan, a client who received legal advocacy services from KCSARC, said the role of her Legal Advocate made a huge difference in her case.

“Legal Advocates are trained to hold space for their clients and be an informed resource during an incredibly confusing process,” Megan said. “There was no way I could have pushed this case as far as I did without my advocate.”

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