Select your state

Criminal procedure

crime victims' rights laws

Under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act—located in the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. §3771—a crime victim is a person harmed as a result of the commission of a federal crime, or a crime in the District of Columbia. A crime victim has the following rights:

(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding or any parole proceeding involving the crime, or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right to not be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
(9) The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement.
(10) The right to be informed of the rights under this section and the services described in section 503(c) of the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 10607(c)) and provided contact information for the Office of the Victims' Rights Ombudsman of the Department of Justice.

And in any court proceeding involving an offense against a crime victim, the court must ensure that the crime victim is allowed these rights. Before making a determination described in number (3) above, the court must make every effort to permit the fullest attendance possible by the victim and must consider reasonable alternatives to the exclusion of the victim from the criminal proceeding. The reasons for any decision denying relief under this chapter must be clearly stated on the record. 18 U.S.C. §3771(b).

The crime victim or the crime victim’s lawful representative and the attorney for the Government may assert these rights. A person accused of the crime may not obtain any form of relief under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(1).

In a case where the court finds that the number of crime victims makes it impracticable to provide all of the crime victims these rights, the court must create a reasonable procedure to give effect to the Crime Victims Rights Act—and one that does not unduly complicate or prolong the proceedings. 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(2).

Victims of violent crimes that are prosecuted in state courts under state law often have rights as well. These rights may be located in the state’s constitution, statutes, or code of criminal procedure, for example.

Under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. §3771), individuals harmed by the commission of a federal crime or a crime in the District of Columbia are granted specific rights. These rights include protection from the accused, notification and participation in court proceedings, the right to confer with the prosecuting attorney, restitution, and respect for their dignity and privacy, among others. In Texas, these federal rights are complemented by state-level protections for crime victims, which may be found in the Texas Constitution, statutes, or the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. These rights ensure that victims are involved and informed throughout the legal process and that their interests are considered in court proceedings. Texas courts are required to uphold these rights and create procedures to accommodate them, especially in cases with a large number of victims, without causing undue delay or complication to the proceedings.

Legal articles related to this topic