Victims have always had rights, not just in what follows, but through the various laws we have against criminal behavior that states certain behavior is unacceptable and the offender shall and will be held accountable and responsible for said criminal behavior.
But somewhere along the way we assumed the criminal justice system would uphold the law and have the best interest of the victims and society within their sight and that complacency gave way for organizations and groups to turn the system around to put the rights of criminals as an issue of higher importance than those of victims and society.
We do not need additional laws, we need to uphold the laws we have now.
USCS (United States Code) 42 Sec. 10606 Victims’ Rights
(a) Best efforts to accord rights
Officers and employees of the Department of Justice and other departments and agencies of the United States engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime shall make their best efforts to see that victims of crime are accorded the rights described in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) Rights of crime victims
(1) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
(2) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused offender.
(3) The right to be notified of court proceedings.
(4) The right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, unless the court determined that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony at trial.
(5) The right to confer with (footnote 1) attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to restitution.
(7) The right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the offender.
(Footnote 1) So in original. Probably should be followed by "the". (C) No cause of action or defense.
This section does not create a cause of action or defense in favor of any person arising out of the failure to accord to a victim the rights enumerated in subsection (b) of this section.
(also see 42 USCS 10607 Services to victims.)
Indiana Constitutionally Guarantees the Following Rights to Its Victims of Crime:
Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and, as defined by law, to be informed of and present during public hearings and to confer with the prosecution, to the extent that exercising these rights does not infringe upon the constitutional rights of the accused.
These rights are minimal in comparison with the rights afforded to the offender, but if we will at least guarnatee even these basic rights to victims of crime, victims might be more willing to report a crime committed against them and endure the emotional trauma of reliving the crime through the prosecution of the case. In addition to other reasons, it is in part when the victim feels no one is listening that they are reluctant to report a crime or endure the proceedings and time it takes to prosecute a criminal case.
IC 33-14-10-3 Sec. 3 A prosecuting attorney shall ensure the following:
1. That the full impact of an offense is brought to the attention of the court.
2. That victims of offenses are treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity at all stages of the criminal justice process.
3. That the rights of victims are vigorously protected by law enforcement agencies and the office of the prosecuting attorney.
In Indiana also see ( I.C. 33-14-10-1 through 6, Victim Assistance Programs)
Basically stated, in the criminal justice process lawyers are retained to assure the rights of the criminal are not violated, judges preside in the process to assure all proceedings are conducted within the rules of the court for all parties involved and prosecutor's are to defend the victim and the citizens of the State against further criminal behavior and harm.
It is not realistic to believe prosecutors can win every case, but expecting them to do their very best in every case is realistic; that is their job. Victims do not need prosecutors to win every case, we only need to know they are standing tall and fighting for us, because that is all we ever wanted, someone fighting on our behalf for the injustice we have endured.
Offenders deserve to have their rights protected, but I think we have gone beyond guaranteeing their rights of fair treatment and a fair trial, to excusing their behavior at everyone's expense. This happens too often which means offenders are leaving more victims behind. I don't think our laws were orginally created to reduce prison population by increasing the status of victims.
The criminal justice system belongs to you, be involved!