In the past victims of a crime had few if any real rights, but legislation was passed in the Virginia General Assembly that provided certain rights to all victims of crime.


They include


1. Victims have the right to be present during the trial of their case.  Ordinarily prosecutors need victims to testify in the criminal trial.  Previously, victims were excluded from the trial if they had to testify.  Now, however, victims are allowed to testify AND remain in the courtroom after their testimony has concluded.


2. At a sentencing hearing, victims are now allowed to testify about how the crime has affected them.  Specifically victims are allowed to provide Victim Impact Statements.  These statements can be presented orally from the witness stand or they can be put in writing.  Of course victims also have the right to decline to attend the trial and/or the sentencing hearing (unless they are called as a witness and they must appear for that purpose).


3. After the defendant has been sentenced and if a prison sentence is imposed, victims have the right to be kept informed by the Department of Corrections about the status of the defendant.  The DOC will advise victims which prison he or she is serving their sentence, whether or not they are transferred, an expected release date and (hopefully this will never happen) if the defendant escapes from incarceration.


Please feel free to speak to either Bill Demere or Suzanne DeHart about any of these issues.