Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

Rights for Victims of Crime All states, as well as the federal government, have enacted laws regarding victims’ rights. About two-thirds of the states have also

enacted state constitutional amendments to include those rights. In some states, crime victims’ rights only apply to victims

Crime victims’ rights laws have been enacted in every state.

of felonies, while in other states, victims of misdemeanors are also granted rights. A victim is typically defined as someone who has been harmed by another person criminally. Each state defines who is allowed to exercise rights on behalf of victims, which could include family members, parents or guardians, or those who have a legal power of attorney. The following is a general list of victim rights. These rights differ based on jurisdiction, and the list is not intended to serve as legal advice. Victims may have the right: • To be treated with fairness, dignity, sensitivity, and respect; • To attend and be present at criminal justice proceedings; • To be heard in the criminal justice process, including the right to confer with the prosecutor and submit a victim impact statement at sentencing, parole, and other similar proceedings; • To be informed of proceedings and events in the criminal justice process, including the release or escape of the offender, legal rights and remedies, and available benefits and services, and

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