What are Victim's Rights?

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  • Written By: Patrick Lynch
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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Victim’s rights are certain rights that victims of crime have been given in various jurisdictions. These rights change from place to place but are designed to prevent victims from certain things, such as invasion of privacy. They also typically allow victims rights such as the right to be present at sentencing and the ability to object to any proposed settlement in their case.

The Victim’s Rights Movement began because it was felt that some legal systems were more concerned with the rights of criminals than those of the victims. This belief stems from the massive emphasis on rehabilitation of criminals that began in the 1960s and 1970s. At this time, there also were many lawsuits pertaining to the alleged poor conditions of prisons and unlawful treatment of prisoners.

Proponents of the rights of victims wished to see those who were affected by the crime given at least the same care and support as the criminals, and they felt that these things were not forthcoming. They felt that many victims were just ignored by the legal system, and they wanted compensation to be paid. Also, it was reported that the number of offenders who sought out former victims to persecute them again was increasing.


The legislatures of many jurisdictions allow prosecutors to maintain contact with the victim and the victim's family throughout court proceedings. This includes through the time of the verdict. Presuming that the person or persons charged were convicted and punished, victim’s rights also enable prosecutors to inform the victim of any parole hearings, appeals or instances of clemency.

Some legislatures ensure that any pay received by the perpetrator while in prison will go at least in part to the victim. At one time, if the offender had earned money from creative works regarding the event, he or she would have to hand over the royalties to the victim. These requirements have been altered in many cases, because they were deemed to be a violation of the criminal's right of free speech.

Other victim’s rights include privacy. A victim of a crime generally has the right to remain anonymous unless he or she chooses to reveal himself or herself. In domestic violence cases, the victim typically is to be informed of the conditions and time of the criminal's release as well as the time and place of the next court appearance. The victim also has the right to attend this event.

If the perpetrator is to be sentenced, the victim typically is to be informed about the severity of the sentence. Even if the victim is not present, any objections that he or she has made will be known to the court. Finally, a victim typically has the right to not press charges and will not be penalized for doing so.


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