CRIME VICTIM RIGHTS LAWS
I would like to address “Crime Victim Rights” laws that most states now have. These statutes mandate that crime victims have certain rights that prosecutors must follow. Some of these rights include the right of a crime victim to confront their assailant in court; to have a separate waiting room when appearing in court; to prepare and have the Court consider a victim impact statement before sentencing the defendant; the right to be notified of all court hearings and trial date; and the right to have input on plea bargains the prosecutors offer the criminal defendant.
When I initiate civil litigation against a perpetrator I send a “Crime Victim Rights” letter to the District Attorney who is prosecuting the victim’s criminal case. In Texas, the prosecutors (District Attorneys or County Attorneys) are duty bound to follow the mandates of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that govern crime victim’s rights. Whether or not a crime victim decides to pursue a civil action claim against the perpetrator, I would wholly encourage crime victim caseworkers and crime victim advocates to consider sending the prosecuting attorney a “Crime Victim Rights” letter. This letter lets the Office of the Prosecutor know that the crime victim is invoking her rights under the Act.
The Crime Victim Rights letter invokes the rights of the victim to be advised of any plea bargain agreements between the Prosecutor’s Office and the offender and also invokes the right of the victim to make a crime victim impact statement that the Court may review before imposing sentencing in the criminal case. A sample “Crime Victim Rights” letter can be found in downloadable format (Microsoft Word) from my law firm website at www.kevinmadison.com. This letter was designed to be used in Texas. However, you can probably modify this form letter to fit the applicable crime victim rights law in your state.
Kevin Madison is an Austin-based attorney with over 29 years litigation experience and 25 years of experience as a judge. He is also a trained Sexual Assault Crime Victim Advocate. He was the first attorney in Austin to file a civil lawsuit against a rapist and obtained a $1.5 million judgment in 1987. His experience and training as a police officer, police chief, prosecutor and EMT set him apart from most other personal injury attorneys as an advocate for victim rights in the civil justice system. To learn more about Kevin Madison or civil remedies available to victims of sexual assault, visit www.KevinMadison.com or call (512) 708-1650.