Your Rights as a Victim
In order “to ensure the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording rights and considerations to the victims of crime, and to preserve and protect victims’ rights to justice and fairness in the criminal justice system,” the State of Mississippi guarantees certain rights to victims of violent crimes. Victims of felonies involving physical violence, the threat of physical injury, a sexual offense, or any offense involving spousal abuse or domestic violence are entitled to the following:
- Information from the law enforcement agency responsible for your case regarding emergency and crisis referrals, the availability of victims’ compensation, the officer’s name and agency contact information, the procedural steps of a criminal prosecution, the rights authorized by the Mississippi Constitution, including a Request to Exercise Victims’ Rights form, the existence of and eligibility requirements for restitution, a recommended procedure if the victim is subjected to threats or intimidation, and the name and telephone number of the office of the prosecuting attorney to contact for further information.
- To be notified of all charges filed against the defendant, and any criminal proceedings, other than initial appearances, as soon as practicable.
- An opportunity to speak with the prosecutor prior to the beginning of the trial, including the expression of the views of the victim regarding a nolle prosse, reduction of charge, sentence recommendation, and pre-trial diversion programs.
- To a final disposition of the criminal proceeding free from unreasonable delay.
- To be present at all criminal proceedings.
- To have a separate waiting area from and minimal contact with the defendant, the defendant’s relatives, and defense witnesses.
- to have the prosecutor petition the court that you or any other witnesses not be compelled to testify at any pre-trial proceedings or at trial to any facts concerning identity, residence, or place of employment that could cause a danger to those who have been threatened or intimidated.
- to be notified of the date of conviction, acquittal, or dismissal of the charges filed against the defendant. If the defendant is convicted, the victim shall be notified of the existence and function of the pre-sentence report, the name, address, and telephone number of the office which is preparing the pre-sentence report, the right to make a victim impact statement, the right of the defendant to review the pre-sentence report, if the court orders restitution, the right to pursue collection of the restitution.
- to submit a written victim impact statement or make an oral victim impact statement to the probation officer for use in preparing a pre-sentence report.
- to be notified of the sentence imposed on the defendant as soon as practicable.
- to be given by the Attorney General’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office the status of any post-conviction court review or appellate proceeding within five business days after the status is known.
- to be notified by the sheriff or municipal jailer, upon request, of the release on bond of a defendant.
- to be notified, upon request, of the escape and return of the defendant/prisoner into custody.
- to present an impact statement or information that concerns the criminal offense or the sentence during any entry of a plea of guilty, sentencing, or restitution proceeding. The right of the victim to be heard may be exercised, where authorized by law, at the discretion of the victim, through an oral statement or submission of a written statement, or both.
- to have property taken during the course of an investigation returned to the victim as soon as possible, or to be notified by the law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation why the property will not be returned.
- to be notified, upon request, of the upcoming release of the prisoner fifteen days prior to the end/expiration or fifteen days prior to a medical release. If the prisoner dies while incarcerated, the victim shall be notified, upon request, of the death within fifteen days.
- to be notified that he or she can submit a written statement, or audio or video recording, which shall be entered into the prisoner’s Department of Corrections records, and shall be considered during any review for community status of the prisoner prior to release of the prisoner.
- to be notified and allowed to submit a written or recorded statement when parole or pardon is considered.
- to testify in a criminal proceeding or participate in the reasonable preparation of criminal proceedings without loss of employment, intimidation, or threat or fear of the loss of employment.
These rights do not include the right to direct the prosecution of the case. The prosecutor will confer with the victim and consider the victim’s wishes, but the prosecutor ultimately decides how a case should be handled.
In order to assert the rights listed above, a victim must provide the appropriate prosecutor with a signed Request to Exercise Victim’s Rights form, which will be provided to the victim by the law enforcement agency investigating the case.