Crime Victims: What Are Their Legal Rights

Posted on: 5 March 2015


A person convicted of a crime has the right to hire a criminal attorney or have one appointed for him or her if paying for legal assistance is an issue. You may know that if you go on trial for a criminal act, you have certain rights, such as a choice to testify on your own behalf and appealing the jury's decision if it is not in your favor. But what about the victims? What rights do victims of criminal activity have? The answer is many. 

Right To Have Their Voice Heard

Victims have the right to testify against you in court and generally allowed to sit in the courtroom throughout the entire court proceeding. If you are found guilty, the victim can make a statement before the court at your sentencing. With this statement, he or she can disclose to the judge how the crime has affected the victim's life and what type of punishment he or she believes you deserve. Judges do not have to consider victim impact statements, but they often do. 

Right To Protection

If you are the suspect in a crime involving a victim, and you are released from jail on bail, the victim has the right to be notified. If you threaten or harass the victim in any way, a restraining order can be issued against you. 

Victims also have the right to be notified if you are up for parole, so he or she can participate in the parole proceedings. At these proceedings, the victim can tell the parole board why he or she feels your parole should not be granted. 

Depending on the state, the victim is notified if you escape from prison. 

Right To Compensation

In some state cases, and in all federal cases, the victim has the right to be paid for stolen or damaged items as well as any medical expenses the victim may have incurred as a result of the crime. Even if you are given probation for your crime, the judge can make restitution or reimbursement part of your probation requirements.  

The victim can sue you for reimbursement, too. And in some states have a Victim's Compensation Fund, so victims can apply for compensation. 

Victims have rights, just like the accused, so it is important for all parties to understand their rights. A criminal attorney like one from Kaiser Law Group can answer any questions you may have about your rights and those of others involved in the legal matter. Some courts offer assistance programs that provide counsel for victims.