Most people know that the accused in a criminal case has many rights, like the right to an attorney and the right not to make any incriminating statements. However, many people may be unclear regarding the victim’s rights in a criminal case. The victim in any criminal case is also afforded a number rights and protections.
These may vary by state, but the rights of crime victims generally include:
- The right to be informed of court proceedings that may be related to their criminal case;
- The right to be informed of any negotiations or plea offers that are being extended to the defendant in the case;
- The right to make statements to the judge and the court at the time of the defendant’s sentencing;
- The right to request that a defendant pay restitution as a result of their criminal conduct (especially where the defendant has been convicted)
- The right to be informed of any sentences that have been ordered for the convicted offender;
- If the offender has indeed been sentenced to jail or prison, the right to be informed if the defendant has been or will be released on parole
- The right to submit requests and statements to the parole officer or parole board
Thus, many of the rights provided to victims in a criminal case have to do with the victim’s continued safety and protection. For example, the right to be informed of the defendant’s parole eligibility is important, as it allows the victim to be notified if the defendant might be present again in the same community.
Some states also maintain victim’s compensation funds, which grant the victim some financial assistance for resources such as counseling.
What Are the Victim’s Rights after the Offender Is Released?
The victim in a criminal case may also have various rights after the offender has been released from prison or jail. These can include:
- The right to be informed of any important parole decisions or proceedings that may affect the criminal case;
- The right to be informed of specific rights regarding parole, probation, or early release programs;
- The right to speak with a “victim’s rights officer”, who may be appointed by the prosecutor’s office in some states to help provide the victim with counseling and guidance
In many instances, the defendant may be required to register with a criminal database, such as a sex offender registry. The defendant may need to provide important information, such as their living address after release from prison. Thus, the victim will also have the right to be informed of such information through online database registries.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Victim’s Rights in a Criminal Case?
The rights of the victim in a criminal case may vary by state, and according to the nature of the criminal case. If you have any questions or need advice regarding your rights in a criminal case, you should speak with a criminal lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can help explain your rights according to the specific laws in your area. This can help you avoid any errors or oversights that may result from not knowing which rights you’re entitled to.