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The Little Book of Restorative Justice
The Little Book of Restorative Justice


God and the Victim: Theological Reflections on Evil, Victimization, Justice, and Forgiveness
God and the Victim: Theological Reflections on Evil, Victimization, Justice, and Forgiveness


Victimology: Legal, Psychological, and Social Perspectives
Victimology: Legal, Psychological, and Social Perspectives

Victim Rights



Basic Victim Rights

Current federal and state laws currently in place general give victims at least a minimal coverage of rights. Some of these are outlined below. For the specifics in your state, make sure to check the state by state listings.

The right to attend and/or participate in criminal justice proceedings

The victim can attend the trial, sentencing, and/or the parole. Many states also allow the victim to make an oral or written statement to be considered by the court or parole board at such proceedings. Many of you may remember the emotional televised statements from families of victims of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Victims are increasingly being given the right to attend and sometimes address the court at other critical proceedings in the criminal justice process, such as:

  • Hearings on bail or pre-trial release of the offender
  • Entry of plea agreements
  • Post-trial relief or release hearings
  • Probation hearings
  • Commutation or pardon hearings
  • The right to notification of the stages/proceedings in the criminal process

This may not only include notification to the victim or their family of scheduled criminal proceedings and their outcomes, but also advance notice of proceedings where the victim has the right to attend and/or make a statement, as well as when hearings have been canceled and rescheduled. The right to be notified is a crucial one, because without it, victims cannot adequately pursue their other rights.

The right to notification of other legal remedies

Victims may also have the right to be informed of the option to sue the offender for money damages in the civil justice system, to collect witness fees for their testimony, as well as other rights.

The right to protection from intimidation and harassment

The right to protection from intimidation and harassment by the offender or their family or associates may be extended to the victim's family members, as well as the victim. In the event you receive threats, bribes, or other attempts to persuade or intimidate you into testifying untruthfully, to forget, or to make yourself unavailable as a witness, report it immediately to law enforcement.

If you are the victim of domestic violence (violence within the family) or repeat violence (two incidents), you can file an injunction for protection with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Other kinds of protection include:

  • Police escorts to and from court
  • Secure waiting areas separate from those of the accused and his/her family during court proceedings
  • Witness stands that are shielded from the direct view of the offender; especially if the victim is a child, in which case many courts now allow video taped testimony to be used to protect the child from the trauma of the courtroom and further exposure to the accused
  • Closing the courtroom to those who are not parties to the case
  • Residence relocation
  • The Right to Notification Of Employer AND Creditors

At your request, the State Attorney or Sheriff can inform your employer that your cooperation in their investigation and prosecution of the case may necessitate your absence from work. At your request, they can also contact your creditors to seek their consideration if you are unable, temporarily, to continue payments as a result of the crime. Credit card companies are usually willing to suspend interest and payments if notified of the situation by an authority.

The right to confidentiality of records

Unlike many other criminal cases, police and court records are not public record if they involve a juvenile or if the case deals with sexual assault or rape. These records are usually only available to the attorneys and parties to the case.

Victims' Rights: A Reference HandbookVictims' Rights: A Reference Handbook
In the past 20 years, the victims' rights movement has gathered momentum, often succeeding in its attempts to turn the tables on laws and legislation that traditionally loaded the scales of justice in favor of criminal defendants. Victims' Rights explores this movement and its implications in detail for the first time in a single, comprehensive handbook. It answers questions vital to every U.S. citizen: What is the criminal justice system, and what is the role of the victim in that system? How has this role changed in recent years? What are society's attitudes toward victims' and defendants' rights? Why is there a push for a constitutional amendment regarding the rights of victims? This volume answers all these questions and more, and is rounded out by a chronology, biographical sketches, documents, court cases, legislation, an annotated directory of victim and defendant advocate organizations, and a general index for ease of access.



The right to speedy trial provisions

Usually, this Constitutional right is used as a tactic by defense attorneys to rush the prosecution to court before they have all their ducks in a proverbial row. But this is a two-edged sword. As a victim, YOU have the right to a speedy trial also.

The right to prompt return of the victim's personal property seized as evidence from the offender

This can include photos, clothing, recordings, letters etc.

Access to the profits when offenders sell the stories of their crimes

Why should the assailant get rich sitting in jail at YOUR expense? most states have provisions which prevent offenders from selling or making substantial income from selling books or scripts based on their crimes.

Victim compensation and restitution

State victim compensation programs are designed to provide financial assistance to victims and, in some cases, to family members and other eligible persons. Usually, a victim must have suffered actual physical harm or other tangible loss. Keep track of your losses such as destroyed or stolen property and cost of any emotional counseling. This includes medical bills AND lost wages as a result of the abusers actions.

In most states, a victim must fully cooperate with law enforcement and prosecution efforts in order to qualify for compensation. Restitution, on the other hand, is ordered by the court or in some states, by the paroling authority making the offender pay for the financial loss of the victim. However, as a rule, neither victim compensation nor restitution include punitive damages for injury or loss suffered by the victim. A lawsuit in civil court is usually required to recover punitive damages.

Transcending: Reflections of Crime VictimsTranscending: Reflections of Crime Victims
Are victims of crime destined to have the rest of their lives shaped by the crimes they have experienced? A woman whose mother was murderd wonders what happened to the road map for living the rest of her life. Will victims of crime always be bystanders in the justice system? The father of a yound man killed in prison has a hard time forgiving the judge and the system.

Is it possible for anyone to transcend such a comprehensively destructive, identity-altering occurrence? A woman who was assaulted espressed that she would run until she was not angry anymore. Howard Zehr presents the portraits and the courageous stories of 39 victims of violent crime in Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims. Many of these people were twice-wounded: once at the hands of an assailant; the second time by the courts, where there is no legal provision for victim participation. This book might hand down a rope to others who have experienced such tragedies and traumas, and that it might allow all who read it to live on the healing edge.

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Last Updated: May 5, 2011