U.S. Citizen Victims of Crime in Colombia

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Being the victim of a crime in Colombia can be a devastating and traumatic experience. Devoument Group Lawyers Enterprises provides exclusive legal assistance to U.S. citizen victims of crime or fraud in Colombia.

While no one can undo the emotional trauma, physical injury, or financial loss you may have experienced, Devoument Group Lawyers Enterprises in Bogota is ready to help. We are very concerned about violent crimes committed against U.S. citizens in Colombia.  We will assist you in managing the practical consequences of being a crime victim and provide you with information about accessing the local criminal justice system, as well as other resources for crime victims abroad and the United States.  This office can assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family or friends on your behalf and explain how funds can be transferred.  We can also help you to better understand the criminal justice system in Colombia, which is very different from the system in the United States.

The information included in this guide related to the legal requirements in Colombia is provided for representation purposes. Questions involving interpretation of Colombian laws should be addressed to Devoument Group Lawyers Enterprises Global - Colombia.  The investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities.  Our firm informs that upon the request of the Colombian government, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may assist local authorities in certain cases of kidnapping, hostage-taking and terrorism.

An American citizen residing in Colombia, who is a victim of violence by illegal armed groups, may apply for compensation. The name of the office of Victims Program in Colombia is “Agencia Presidencial para la Acción Social y Cooperación Internacional”. Devoument Group Lawyers Enterprises -Colombia, assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by other legal firms.  

A crime should be reported to the appropriate Colombian authorities as soon as possible.  A police report, known as a denuncia, may be filed at the nearest Unidad de Reacción Inmediata (URI) of the Colombian judicial authorities.  You may also file a report at a police station but it will not have the same validity for legal process and it is recommended that victims go to the URI to file a formal report with our lawyers assistance.  Also, it is best to file the report in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, if possible.  Be sure to receive a copy of the report before departing.

If you have difficulties filing your police report with an official, please contact Devoument Group Lawyers Enterprises immediately.  You will need a police report to file for crime victim compensation or insurance reimbursement.  If you do decide to file a report, if you want, send a copy to us, along with your address and phone number in the event that we decide to communicate with you. We are authorized to act as your legal representative, and our office can help you track the progress of your case and advise you of any developments.

Domestic violence is a crime under the Colombian Penal Code. The National Constitution sets the guidelines for implementing prevention, solution and punishment of violence within the family. Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, remains a serious problem in Colombia.  Judicial authorities may remove an abuser from the household and require counseling.  Prison time is possible if the abuser causes grave harm or the abuse is recurrent; however, provisions for fines are generally not applied.  The law stipulates that the government must provide victims of domestic violence with immediate protection from physical or psychological abuse.  The ICBF provides safe houses and counseling for victims, but its services are dwarfed by the magnitude of the problem.  In addition to fulfilling traditional family counseling functions, the ICBF family ombudsmen handle domestic violence cases.  The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office conducts regional training workshops to promote the application of domestic violence statutes. If you need immediate assistance finding a place to stay our firm can also provide the names of hotels or a temporary shelter.

For homicide cases, It is required to have a necropsy done in cases of violent deaths or those suspect of homicide, suicide or fatal accident. Necropsies are also performed in cases of natural death when the circumstances leading to death are not clear (sudden deaths). This process may take up to two to three hours in simple cases and longer when it is a complex case or if it is a case that needs the additional opinion of another physician (radiologist, forensic doctor, dentist, etc.). A family member can be present as the victim’s representative.

If the authorities decide that a crime has been committed and there is credible suspicion that one particular person has committed that crime, they will proceed to file an arrest warrant with the district attorney’s office. The police must have this warrant to arrest a suspect. However, there is no need for an arrest warrant if suspects are arrested attempting to flee a crime scene.

Colombian authorities must notify in writing when a detention has been made. This process, in practice, may take several months.

Law requires the authorities in charge to inform suspects of the reasons for their arrest and to have them appear before a district attorney for a preliminary hearing within 36 hours of the detention. District attorneys should determine the legality of an arrest within 72 hours. According to local legislation for crimes committed after January 1st, 2008, charges must be pressed within 30 days of the arrest or the suspect must be released. Generally a trial must start within 90 days of the initial arrest. Habeas corpus is available to report an unlawful detention or imprisonment. People arrested for a crime or sued have the right to have access to a lawyer and those who have no means, have the right to have one appointed.

People accused of petty crimes have the right to pay a bond for their release, however, those accused of murder, rebellion or drug trafficking do not have the right to a bond.

Those who have gone through trial have the right to appeal the verdict but are not allowed to be present at the appeal hearing.

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