Victims' Rights

Title 18 USC §3771 “The Crime Victims Rights Act”
‘‘§ 3771. Crime victims’ rights
(a) RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS.—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 proceeding involving the
 crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any
 such public proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any
public proceeding involving release, plea, or sentencing.
(5) The 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.
(b) RIGHTS AFFORDED.—In any court proceeding
involving an offense against a crime victim, the court shall
ensure that the crime victim is afforded the rights described in subsection (a). The reasons for any decision denying relief under this chapter shall be clearly stated on the record.
(c) BEST EFFORTS TO ACCORD RIGHTS.—
(1) GOVERNMENT.—Officers and employees of
 the Department of Justice and other departments
and agencies of the United States engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime shall make their best efforts to see that crime victims are notified of, and accorded, the rights described in
subsection (a).
(2) CONFLICT.—In the event of any material
conflict of interest between the prosecutor and the
crime victim, the prosecutor shall advise the crime
victim of the conflict and take reasonable steps to
 direct the crime victim to the appropriate legal referral, legal assistance, or legal aid agency.
(3) NOTICE.—Notice of release otherwise required pursuant to this chapter shall not be given if such notice may endanger the safety of any person.
(d) ENFORCEMENT AND LIMITATIONS.—
1) RIGHTS.—The crime victim, the crime victim’s lawful representative, and the attorney for the Government may assert the rights established in this
 chapter. A person accused of the crime may not obtain any form of relief under this chapter.
(2) MULTIPLE CRIME VICTIMS.—In a case where the court finds that the number of crime victims makes it impracticable to accord all of the
crime victims the rights contained in this chapter, the court shall fashion a procedure to give effect to this chapter.
(3) WRIT OF MANDAMUS.—If a Federal court denies any right of a crime victim under this chapter or under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure,
the Government or the crime victim may apply for a writ of mandamus to the appropriate court of appeals. The court of appeals shall take up and decide such application forthwith and shall order such relief as may be necessary to protect the crime victim’s ability to exercise the rights.
(4) ERROR.—In any appeal in a criminal case, the Government may assert as error the district court’s denial of any crime victim’s right in the proceeding to which the appeal relates.
(5) NEW TRIAL.—In no case shall a failure to afford a right under this chapter provide grounds for a new trial.
(6) NO CAUSE OF ACTION.—Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize a cause of action for damages.
(e) DEFINITIONS.—For the purposes of this chapter, the term ‘crime victim’ means a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense. In the case of a crime victim who is under
18 years of age, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased, the legal guardians of the crime victim or the representatives of the crime victim’s estate, family members, or any other persons appointed as suitable by the court, may assume the crime victim’s rights under this chapter, but in
 no event shall the defendant be named as such guardian or representative.
(f) PROCEDURES TO PROMOTE COMPLIANCE.—
(1) REGULATIONS.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this chapter, the Attorney General of the United States shall promulgate regulations to enforce the rights of crime victims and to ensure compliance by responsible officials with the obligations described in law respecting
crime victims.

(2) CONTENTS.—The regulations promulgated under paragraph (1) shall—
(A) establish an administrative authority within the Department of Justice to receive and investigate complaints relating to the provision
or violation of the rights of a crime victim;
(B) require a course of training for employees and offices of the Department of Justice that fail to comply with provisions of Federal law pertaining to the treatment of crime victims, and otherwise assist such employees and offices in responding more effectively to the needs of crime victims;
(C) contain disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or termination from employment, for employees of the Department of Justice who willfully or wantonly fail to comply with provisions of Federal law pertaining to the
treatment of crime victims; and
(D) provide that the Attorney General, or the designee of the Attorney General, shall be the final arbiter of the complaint, and that there shall be no judicial review of the final decision of the Attorney General by a complainant.’’.

 

§ 23-1901. District of Columbia Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights.
(a) Officers or employees of the District of Columbia engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime or the judicial process shall make their best efforts to see that victims of crime are accorded the rights described in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A crime victim has the right to:
(1) Be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy;
(2) Be reasonably protected from the accused offender; Washington D.C. Laws page 3
(3) Be notified of court proceedings;
(4) Be present at all court proceedings related to the offense, including the sentencing, and release, parole, record-sealing, and post-conviction hearings, unless the court determines that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony or where the needs of justice otherwise require;
(5) Confer with an attorney for the prosecution in the case which does not include the authority to direct the prosecution of the case;
(6) An order of restitution from the person convicted of the criminal conduct that caused the victim’s loss or injury;
(7) Information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, detention, and release of the offender, and about any court order to seal the offender’s criminal records; and
(8) Notice of the rights provided in this chapter and under the laws of the District of Columbia.
(c) This section does not create a cause of action or defense in favor of any person arising out of the failure to accord to a victim the rights enumerated in subsection (b) of this section.
§ 23-1902. Notice to crime victims.
(a) The head of each department and agency of the District of Columbia engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime or in the judicial process shall designate the persons who will be responsible for identifying the victims of crime and performing the services described in subsection (c) of this section at each stage of a criminal case.
(b) At the earliest opportunity after the detection of a crime at which it may be done without interfering with an investigation, a responsible official shall identify the victim or victims of a crime.
(c)(1) At the earliest opportunity after the detection of a crime at which it may be done without interfering with an investigation, a responsible official shall inform identified victims of:
(A) Their right to receive the services described in this subsection and a listing of their bill of rights as contained in section 23-1901;
(B) The name, title, business address and telephone number of the responsible official to whom the victim should address a request for assistance to obtain the services described in this subsection;
(C) The place where the victim may receive emergency medical and social services;
(D) Any restitution, crime victims’ compensation, crime victims’ assistance or other relief for which the victim may be eligible under this or any other law and the manner in which such relief may be obtained;
(E) The names and phone numbers of public and private victim assistance programs that are available to provide counseling, treatment, and other support to the victim;
(F) The procedure and resources available for reasonable protection of the victim; and Washington
(G) The police report number, if available, and other identifying case information.
(2) During the investigation and prosecution of a crime, a responsible official shall provide the victim, to the extent possible, with timely notice of the:
(A) Status of the investigation of the crime, to the extent it is appropriate to inform the victim and to the extent that it will not interfere with the investigation;
(B) Arrest of a suspected offender;
(C) Filing of criminal charges, the nolle prosequi of the case, or the dismissal of all charges against a suspected offender;
(D) Date of each scheduled court proceeding and any scheduling changes;
(E) Release or detention status of an offender or suspected offender;
(F) Acceptance of a plea of guilty, nolo contendere or an Alford plea, or the rendering of a verdict after trial; and
(G) Sentence or disposition imposed on an offender, including the date on which the offender will be eligible for parole or release.
(d) After trial, a responsible official shall provide a victim with timely notice of the:
(1) Scheduling of a release, parole, record-sealing, or post-conviction hearing for the offender.
(2) Escape, work release, furlough, or any other form of release from custody of the offender; and
(3) Death of the offender, if the offender dies while in custody or under supervision.
(e) The victim or the representative of the victim appointed by the court has a continuing obligation to provide the appropriate investigative, prosecutive, judicial, or correctional agency with correct and up-to-date information on the victim’s name and address or an alternate means by which the victim can be given notice.
(f) This section does not create a cause of action or defense in favor of any person arising out of the failure of a responsible person to provide information as required by this chapter.
§ 23-1903. Crime victim privacy and security.
(a) Before, during, and immediately after any court proceeding, the court shall provide appropriate safeguards to minimize the contact that may occur between the victim and the victim’s family with the accused or the accused’s or respondent’s family, and defense witnesses.
(b) The accused or defendant, the accused’s or defendant’s attorney or another person acting on behalf of the accused or defendant shall clearly identify himself or herself as being, representing or acting on behalf of the accused, defendant, or respondent in any contact with the victim.
(c) A responsible official shall arrange for any crime victim’s property being held for evidentiary purposes to be maintained in good condition and returned to the victim as soon as it is no longer needed for evidentiary purposes.
(d) In a proceeding in which a child is called to give testimony, on motion by the attorney for the government or the victim’s legal or court-appointed representative, or on its own motion, the court may designate the case as being of special public importance. In cases so designated, the court shall expedite the proceeding and ensure that it takes precedence over any other. The court shall ensure a speedy trial in order to minimize the length of time the child must be involved with the criminal justice system. When deciding whether to grant a continuance, the court shall take into consideration the age of the child and the potential adverse impact the delay may have on the child’s well-being. The court shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law when granting a continuance in cases involving a child witness.
§ 23-1904. Crime victims’ rights at sentencing.
(a) Crime victims shall have the right to be present at the defendant’s sentencing, release, parole, post-conviction, and record-sealing hearings.
(b) Crime victims shall have the right to submit, prior to the imposition of sentence, a written victim impact statement containing information concerning any emotional, psychological, financial, or physical harm done to or loss suffered by the victim.
(c) In determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed on the defendant, the Court shall consider any victim impact statement submitted in accordance with this chapter and such statement shall be made a part of the pre-sentence report filed by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.
(d) Crime victims shall have the right to offer at the defendant’s release or parole hearing a written statement of the victim’s opinion whether the defendant should be granted release or parole.
(e) Crime victims shall have the right to make a statement at the defendant’s sentencing and record-sealing hearings. The absence of the crime victim shall not preclude the court from holding the sentencing or record-sealing hearings.
§ 23-1905. Definitions.
For purposes of this section,
(1) The term “court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
(2)(A) The term “victim” or “crime victim” means a person who or entity which has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm:
(i) As a result of the commission of any felony or violent misdemeanor in violation of any criminal statute in the District of Columbia;
(ii) While assisting lawfully to apprehend a person reasonably suspected of having committed or attempted a crime;
(iii) While assisting a person against whom a crime has been committed or attempted if the assistance was rendered in a reasonable manner; or
(iv) While attempting to prevent the commission of a crime.
(B) In the case of a victim or crime victim:
(i) That is an institutional entity, the term “victim” or “crime victim” includes an authorized representative of the entity.
(ii) Who is under 18 years of age, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased, the term “victim” or “crime victim” includes a representative appointed by the court to exercise the rights and receive the services set forth in this chapter on behalf of the victim.
(C) The term “victim” shall not include any person who committed or aided or abetted in the commission of the crime.

§ 23-1906. Applicability.
The provisions of this chapter requiring notice to the victim shall be applicable when computer systems are in place at the Metropolitan Police Department or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to provide such notice or one year after the effective date of this chapter [June 8, 2001], whichever occurs first, and will apply only to crimes committed on or after that date.

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