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Victims' Rights
By Aaron Larson J.D.


What Rights Do I Have If I Am The Victim Of A Crime?

Increasingly, the rights of victims are being recognized in a formal fashion. There is a strong movement to formalize victim's rights, either through statute or constitutional amendment. While the specific rights afforded to crime victims will vary from state to state, typical victim's rights laws grant victims the right to be informed of all court proceedings relating to their case, the right to be informed of any plea offers extended to the defendant, the right to make a statement to the court at the time of sentencing, the right to an order that a convicted defendant pay restitution for losses they suffered as a result of criminal activity, the right to be informed of the sentence received by the convicted defendant, and, if the defendant is sentenced to prison, the right to be informed if the defendant is released on parole. You may be entitled to submit a statement to the parole board.

Some states have victims' compensation funds, which provide some financial compensation to crime victims, and which may provide funds for counseling.

What Happens When The Offender Gets Out Of Prison?

In some states, after conviction, you will have to request to be informed of any parole proceedings or decisions, while in other states you will be informed automatically. The prosecutor who handles your case should be able to inform you of your specific, rights. Some prosecutors' offices have "victims rights" officers, who are available to answer your questions.

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