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.
What Victims are Entitled To
- You have access to pertinent information and assistance:
- You can obtain information from the law enforcement agency responsible for your case regarding emergency and crisis referrals.
- You may be eligible for victims’ compensation.
- You have access to the officer’s name and agency contact information.
- You can obtain information about the procedural steps of a criminal prosecution.
- You have rights authorized by the Mississippi Constitution, including a Request to Exercise Victims’ Rights form.
- You will be informed about the existence of and eligibility requirements for restitution.
- You have access to a recommended procedure if you are subjected to threats or intimidation.
- You have access to the name and telephone number of the office of the prosecuting attorney to contact for further information.
- You will be notified of all charges filed against the defendant, and any criminal proceedings, other than initial appearances, as soon as practicable.
- You have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor before the beginning of the trial and express your views regarding a nolle prosequi, reduction of charge, sentence recommendation, and pre-trial diversion programs.
- You are entitled to a final disposition of the criminal proceeding free from unreasonable delay.
- You can be present at all criminal proceedings.
- You can have a separate waiting area and have minimal contact with the defendant, the defendant’s relatives, and defense witnesses.
- You can 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.
- You will be notified of the date of conviction, acquittal, or dismissal of the charges filed against the defendant. If the defendant is convicted, the following will occur:
- You shall be notified of the existence and function of the pre-sentence report.
- You shall be notified of the name, address, and telephone number of the office preparing the pre-sentence report.
- You will have the right to make a victim impact statement.
- The defendant will have the right to review the pre-sentence report.
- If the court orders restitution, you will have the right to pursue collection of the restitution.
- You can 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.
- You will be notified of the sentence imposed on the defendant as soon as practicable.
- The Attorney General’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office will give you the status of any post-conviction court review or appellate proceeding within five business days after the status is known.
- You will be notified by the sheriff or municipal jailer, upon request, of the release on bond of a defendant.
- You will be notified, upon request, of the escape and return of the defendant/prisoner into custody.
- You may 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.
- Property taken during the course of an investigation will be returned to the victim as soon as possible, or the law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation will notify the victim why the property will not be returned.
- You will be notified, upon request, of the upcoming release of the prisoner 15 days prior to the end/expiration or 15 days prior to a medical release. If the prisoner dies while incarcerated, the victim shall be notified, upon request, of the death within 15 days.
- You will be notified that you 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 of the community status of the prisoner before their release.
- You will be notified and allowed to submit a written or recorded statement when parole or pardon is considered.
- You can testify in a criminal proceeding or participate in the reasonable preparation of criminal proceedings without loss of employment, intimidation, 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.
Request to Exercise Victim’s Rights
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.