Does my son need an attorney if he is the victim of a crime?

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Does my son need an attorney if he is the victim of a crime?

My son was involved in a recent incident. A local attorney pulled his pants down and exposed himself to my son and his friend. The police were called, the attorney was arrested, and he pled not guilty. The pretrial is set for March. Not sure what happens at a pretrial. So my son and his friend are accusing this man, and this man is not denying it but says that it’s all a part of his mentoring program. Therefore he says that he is not guilty. This man has an attorney to represent him at the pretrial and trial. Does my son and his friend need an attorney of their own? Or are they, being the victims, there to just testify and tell what happened? I didn’t think that they needed an attorney, but someone told me to get my son one. Little confused and scared.

Asked on January 22, 2011 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You only need an attorney if (1) you are defending yourself from a crime; (2) you are defending yourself from a lawsuit; or (3) you are suing someone. So if your son is merely a witness, even the "complaining witness" (the victim) but is not himself a participant in or party to the legal action--i.e. not being prosecuted, sued, or suing--then no, he does not need an attorney. Of course, it may be the case that you may wish to sue on behalf of your son, in which case he'd need an attorney; and if there was anything you son was involved in that might be illegal or give rise to liability (e.g. drugs; or touched any other minor inappropriately; or shop lifting or credit card fraud; etc.) and which could come out when he's testifying, having an attorney's advice could be invaluable.


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