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An Introduction to Victim’s Legal Rights

In the last few decades victim right laws have come a great distance. There was a day when victims had little power. They will not be told about a defendant’s trial or release from jail, for example. They also couldn't talk to a judge during sentencing to supply their views. Add to that the fact that support groups for victims were rare – so many folk were left alone to try and span the legal system to guard themselves.

Fortunately in recent history more groups offer assistance to victims of crimes. There additionally are not written guiding principles of rights for victims on local, state and Fed levels. Nevertheless for these changes to happen legal entities had to define exactly who qualifies as a victim. While this qualification varies from area to region, most qualify a victim of a felony or a violent crime. If the victim died on account of the crime, then the rights can be elongated to living family as prescribed by wills or guardianships.

So what are the victim’s rights in a criminal case? Here are a few. First, victims (and family members) can be present for the show of the court case. They can also go to sentencing and parole hearings. About the only time this rule can’t be applied is when the victim is an onlooker, with the concept of keeping the barristers and sworn statement from damaging the witnesses recall or opinion in any fashion.

2nd, a victim may be eligible for compensation, especially if they sustained various expenditures as the result of the crime. Survivorship benefits may apply. The prosecutor’s office frequently act as a liaison to make sure qualifying victims get assistance. Some qualifying expenses include counselling. The return of property, medical costs and lost salary.

A third, and vital right for victims is the inherent right to be heard. If a proceeding will affect the victim’s interests, they can take part and talk (fairly often before sentencing). A Victim impact statement gives the Judge a sense of the way in which the crime effected the individual or their family. Victims can also consult with a prosecutor before final sentencing as well as the court and the parole board.

All states make allowance for victim impact info. These may be spoken or written, and some states make allowances for electronic presentations. Most also permit the victim to offer an opinion on sentencing. Under some circumstances the victim can even talk to the suspect under very formal rules with all obligatory legal parties present.

There are many other victim rights too. They've got to be informed of scheduled events, and other general information that may assist them in whatever demeanour is appropriate (like rape crisis counseling). It’s very important to know your rights and get help from the prosecution in exercising them efficiently.

This manuscript is for informative purposes only. You should usually talk to your attorney before proceeding to make any legal choices. The Mays Legal Company is not responsible for action taken based on information in this post.

Stephen Mays owns of The Mays Law Firm a legal company in Brevard County offering free consultations from their web site for criminal defense cases.