THE IMPACT ON LIVES:
There have been several advances in the area of crime victims' rights in recent years, including Marsy's Law for Illinois of 2015 and enactment of the Justice For All Act of 2004 (JFAA). A key component of JFAA is the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), which applies certain, specific courses of action to help enforce victims' rights. Although CVRA continues to evolve and rights under the Act apply only to federal cases, the Act may serve as a model for wider application on the state level.
About Marsy's Law
Marsy's Law for Illinois, formally called the Illinois Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, amended the 1993 Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act by establishing additional protections for crime victims and their families. Voters approved the measure as a constitutional amendment on November 4, 2014. It became law in 2015.
About the Justice For All Act
The Justice for All Act of 2004 (H.R. 5107, Public Law 108-405) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004. The Act contains four major sections related to crime victims and the criminal justice process.
If you are the victim of a violent crime, the Illinois Constitution and Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act give you the following rights:
1. The right to be treated with fairness and respect for your dignity and privacy and to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice process.
2. The right to notice and to a hearing before a court ruling on a request for access to any of the victim’s records, information, or communications which are privileged or confidential by law.
3. The right to timely notification of all court proceedings.
4. The right to communicate with the prosecution.
5. The right to be heard at any post-arraignment court proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue and any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea, or sentencing.
6. The right to be notified of information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused.
7. The right to timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused.
8. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.
9. The right to have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in denying or fixing the amount of bail, determining whether to release the defendant, and setting conditions of release after arrest and conviction.
10. The right to be present at the trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial.
11. The right to have present at all court proceedings, subject to the rules of evidence, an advocate and other support person of the victim’s choice.
12. The right to restitution.
Read more about the Statement of Crime Victims’ Rights
According to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, “As the victim of a violent crime, you have the right to be heard at sentencing. When providing your statement, you may speak extemporaneously or you may prepare a written statement, which may be read aloud by you or a representative of your choosing. When preparing your statement for the sentencing hearing, consider organizing it by the emotional, physical, and financial effects of the crime.” To read more about Victim Impact Statements.