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Victims' Rights (National)

Thirty years ago, victims had few legal rights to be informed, present and heard within the criminal justice system. Victims did not have to be notified of court proceedings or of the arrest or release of the defendant, they had no right to attend the trial or other proceedings, and they had no right to make a statement to the court at sentencing or at other hearings. Moreover, victim assistance programs were virtually non-existent.

Since then, there have been tremendous strides in the creation of legal rights and assistance programs for victims of crime. Today, every state has an extensive body of basic rights and protections for victims of crime within its statutory code. Victims' rights statutes have significantly influenced the manner in which victims are treated within the federal, state, and local criminal justice systems.

From National Victims Center