Time Off to Participate in Criminal Proceedings

Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking often have to go to criminal court to testify in a case against the perpetrator of the crime. For example, an abused women may be asked to testify as a witness when the district attorney prosecutes a batterer for hitting, kicking, or attempting to murder the victim or a survivor of a sexual assault may be asked to testify in a rape trial. Many survivors will need to miss work to testify; survivors may also need to take time off from work to meet with the prosecutor to prepare for a criminal trial. Additionally, survivors may need to take time off from work to go to court for a civil protection order.

Requiring survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to testify in criminal court can place them in a difficult situation. Often survivors are afraid they will be fired or disciplined if they take time off to testify in court. On the other hand, without the victim's testimony, abusers or perpetrators may not be prosecuted for their crimes and abused women will continue to live in danger.

Fortunately, several states have passed laws that allow a victim of crime, including a domestic or sexual violence victim, to take time from work to testify in criminal court without fear of losing her job.