Victims' Rights in Massachusetts and Connecticut
Being a victim of a crime can be devastating and has long lasting consequences. Housing, employment, education, privacy, safety, and, in some cases, citizenship can be put in jeopardy because you were attacked.
If you are a victim of a crime, you have rights. Some of these rights include:
The Right to Participate in the Criminal Justice Process
In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and federal courts, you have the right to be notified of any court hearing or parole hearing for a defendant who committed a crime against you. You also have the right to be notified if the defendant is released or escapes from prison. You have the right to attend court hearings, to make a statement at any public proceeding involving the case, and to speak with the prosecutor.
The Right to Financial Compensation for Your Losses
The federal system and many state governments have established programs to compensate victims of crime. These programs are designed to reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses related to a violent crime. Many courts also require the defendant to make restitution as part of the criminal sentence.
The Right to Sue Your Defendant
As a crime victim, you have the right to sue the defendant in civil (rather than criminal) court for compensation of any losses you have suffered. Compensation may be difficult to obtain, however, if the defendant has few assets.
The Right to Protection
Federal law guarantees you the right to “reasonable protection” from a defendant. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to police escorts to and from court, a secure waiting area in the courtroom, relocation of your residence, and even participation in a witness protection program. A court may also issue an order preventing your employer from firing you for taking time off to participate in the justice process.
An experienced lawyer can work with you to understand your rights and make sure your voice is heard. As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I understand your situation and can help you through the process.
- Helping you craft a Victim Impact Statement which is your opportunity to tell the judge, in your own words, what the crime has meant for you and what you would like to see happen.
- Assisting in communications with prosecutors.
- Advising you concerning First Amendment self-incrimination, marital privileges, self-defense issues, restitution, and civil/monetary remedies.
Representing crime victims requires an experienced, compassionate approach. Victims deserve a lawyer who will listen to their concerns, get the complete picture, and then stand beside them when it is time to seek justice.