Sunday, April 14, 2013

National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

By Diane Forrest
In the summer of 2011 a young man in Mississippi went out joy riding one night with some friends, and during the course of the evening, decided it would be good sport to torture and terrorize a black man.  Things got out of hand when he hit the man with his truck and it resulted in the black man's death.  This young man went to school with a friend of mine's son, and he has also terrorized him.  My friend's son was drawn up in this story as a character witness, and after two years, the legal dealings are still going on.  This is a minor inconvenience compared to other victims of crime.

It’s hard to open a newspaper, or watch the television without seeing a report about crime against someone.  Some stories that stand out in my mind include the psychiatrist who provided shelter to the children from Sandy Hook school after their teacher along with several others were shot, and he ended up having to defend himself and his actions while being called a pervert, child molester, receiving bomb threats and harassing phone calls for doing a good deed.  Another story involved a school bus monitor in New York who was bullied by some children while doing her job.  A fund was set up in her name, and she was donated enough money to where she could retire, and remove herself from future unlawful acts.

While victims may be helpless during the act of the crime, they are afforded rights by the government following the capture of the criminal.  These rights include:

Crime Victims' Rights Act

18 U.S.C. § 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 court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable 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). Before making a determination described in subsection (a)(3), the court shall make every effort to permit the fullest attendance possible by the victim and shall consider reasonable alternatives to the exclusion of the victim from the criminal proceeding. The reasons for any decision denying relief under this chapter shall be clearly stated on the record.

If you are a victim of a crime, or know someone who is, make sure you know your rights, and what kind of help you should expect from your government.  For more information about victim's rights, click on this site:

(All images from Google) 

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