Any victim of a crime goes through the ordeal of reliving the trauma of the crime repeatedly. Not knowing how legal procedures work and the required paperwork can add to the frustration. Most victims are not even aware of the different rights and protections they have. An Orlando, Florida, criminal attorney explains who exactly is a victim of crime and what their rights are.
Who is a Crime Victim?
According to the law, a crime victim is any person who has suffered or is suffering direct or indirect psychological, physical, or financial harm because of a crime or an attempted crime, or a delinquent act. Victims of crime also include the victim’s parents or guardians if they are a minor or the next of kin of a murder victim unless their interests were in any way in conflict with the victim’s interests.
If you are a victim of crime, then you will have a critical position in the administration of justice. You will have to cooperate with law enforcement officials during the investigation and prosecution of the case. You could be called to testify in the case and may have to be present in court or wherever else required at the different stages of the case to provide whatever information may be needed.
What Protections Does a Crime Victim Have?
As a victim of a crime, you may be traumatized. As a result, you may not file charges against the offender. You can take advantage of the many protections that are available to you. Below are some of the protection of victims’ rights. According to these, you will have the right to:
- Be free from abuse, harassment, and intimidation.
- Be protected from the accused or any other person acting on their part.
- Request that you and your family’s welfare and safety be considered when the court sets bail.
- Prevent information about your location from being disclosed so that the defendant cannot locate and harass you further.
- Prevent any confidential information about you from being disclosed.
What are the Rights of a Crime Victim?
Like most defendants have constitutional rights to be treated fairly, crime victims also have certain rights. The law believes that you deserve to know what is happening with your case and have the right to an opinion. You can request to get information about your case and appear at different proceedings, provide your input about how the crime affected you, and have the court consider your views. Besides this, listed are some of the rights you have as a crime victim:
- To be treated with compassion and dignity.
- Have information about any funds available to you through the Victim Crime Compensation, whenever applicable
- Have information about community-based treatment programs, counseling, crisis intervention, and social services.
- Have information about your role in the juvenile and criminal justice system
- Get accurate, reasonable, and timely notice of all public proceedings that involve the alleged criminal behavior. You also have the right to be present at the said criminal proceedings.
- Get notified of any scheduling changes.
- Get accurate, reasonable, and timely notifications about the criminal defendant’s release.
- Get accurate and timely information in case the defendant escapes from prison.
- Be heard in any release proceeding or public pretrial of any individual that concerns you and your rights.
- Discuss plea bargain agreements, release, restitution, pretrial diversion programs, sentencing, and any other case dispositions with the prosecuting attorney.
- Inform anyone reporting about the case’s disposition about how the offender’s behavior affected you and your family.
- Have the information provided by you considered when the sentencing recommendations are being given to the judge.
- Get a copy of the case’s report and other documents that may affect your rights.
- Have information about all the post-conviction procedures and proceedings, be able to participate in them, provide any information before a release decision is arrived at, and be informed of any decision of releasing the accused.
- Have information about clemency and any expungement of criminal record procedures and give relevant information for them. Have the court consider the information given and be informed of any decisions regarding the offender’s release beforehand.
- Keep your creditors or employers informed about your cooperation with the criminal prosecution, which has caused your financial hardships and led to your absence from work.
- Have any special needs of yours accommodated as applicable.
- Have your attorney present during the disposition
Besides this, you also have the right not to be taken advantage of by the court. These rights include:
- The immediate return of your property when it is no longer needed as evidence.
- Timely and complete restoration for all losses caused indirectly and directly by the criminal behavior.
Being a victim of a crime is not easy. Besides the physical, psychological, financial, and emotional trauma, you will also have to deal with various legal procedures and paperwork. Having an experienced attorney like Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys can be helpful at such times. They strive to make all their clients comfortable and will do their best to get you the best outcome possible for your case.