The Rights of Victims of Crime in Virginia

Victims of crime in Virginia are provided certain rights under the law, however, this is not always made clear to victims. As a victim, it is important to be aware of your rights in relation to criminal proceedings. By understanding your rights as a victim, you can actively participate and seek the assistance you are entitled to. The aftermath of a crime against you or a loved one can be a traumatic and confusing experience, which is why it can also be helpful to seek help from lawyers experienced in dealing with the criminal justice system.

The Code of Virginia recognizes the significance of victims and witnesses of crime and aims to ensure their dignity, respect, and privacy are protected. To provide an overview of some of the rights, we have summarised the contents of the Code of Virginia related to the rights of crime victims, helping you understand what you're entitled to and the assistance you can receive.

  1. Victim and Witness Protection and Law-Enforcement Contacts: To safeguard victims and witnesses from harm or threats arising from their cooperation with law enforcement, the Code requires providing information about available protection programs. Additionally, victims and witnesses should have access to a separate waiting area in court to ensure privacy and protection from intimidation.
  1. Financial Assistance: Crime victims must be informed about financial assistance and social services available to them. This includes the right to file a claim for compensation from the Virginia Victims' Fund, seeking restitution for damages, and lost earnings. You also have the right to the prompt return of any property held for evidentiary purposes.
  1. Notices: Victims and witnesses have several rights related to receiving notifications throughout the criminal justice process. These include being informed of judicial proceedings, changes in court dates, appeal or habeas corpus proceedings, and releases or transfers of prisoners. Employers are also required to cooperate with the criminal justice process to minimize any negative impact on employees' pay and benefits.
  1. Victim Input: Victims have the opportunity to participate and provide input during various stages of the criminal justice process. This includes preparing a written victim impact statement prior to sentencing, remaining in the courtroom during trials or proceedings, and testifying about the impact of the offense before sentencing. Victims should also be consulted by the the Commonwealth Attorney regarding plea agreements and have their views considered.
  1. Courtroom Assistance: Victims and witnesses have the right to privacy regarding their personal information, such as addresses and telephone numbers. They also have the right to the services of an interpreter if needed. In certain cases involving sexual offenses, closed hearings or closed-circuit television may be used to protect the victim or witness.
  1. Post-Trial Assistance: After the conclusion of a trial, the attorney for the Commonwealth must provide victims with written notification regarding the case's disposition, the crimes the defendant was convicted of, and the defendant's right to appeal. If the defendant is released on bail pending an appeal, the victim should be promptly notified. If a conviction is overturned and the case is retried, victims maintain the same rights as if the first trial did not take place.

The Code of Virginia ensures that victims of crime are treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity throughout the criminal justice process. In addition to the rights provided under criminal law, victims may also have civil remedies. We can assess your situation and determine if you have grounds to file a lawsuit seeking damages or making other claims. If you require further information or support, contact us at Carroll & Nuttall, PC, today. While an attorney representing a victim cannot replace the Commonwealth's Attorney, we can advocate for your rights, protect your interests, and provide guidance throughout the prosecution process.


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