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Expanding Crime Victim Rights up to Voters

November 4th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

victim advocate, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, There has been much focus in the recent past on criminal justice reform and addressing issues within the system that may unduly prejudice criminal defendants. However, another key player in the criminal justice system is the victim of a particular crime, who is also granted certain rights according to the system. However, not every privilege afforded to victims within the context of the prosecution of a criminal case is always enforceable.

For example, at a defendant’s sentencing, the victim is usually granted the opportunity to speak through a victim impact statement that is presented to the court. Nevertheless, some courts have decided not to take such a statement and proceed to sentencing without hearing from the victim. As a recent report points out, victim advocates are calling for a change in the rules of criminal procedure in this area, making it a right to deliver a victim impact statement. The change will be left in the hands of Illinois voters on today’s ballot.

Strengthening Victim Rights

For many victims, addressing the court at a defendant’s sentencing with a victim impact statement goes beyond attempting to affect the sentence the judge will hand down. Many victims simply want their voice to be heard. In a more practical sense, the statement would also go on the record and be available to others who may be reviewing the case down the road on potential appeal. Supporters of this and other victims’ rights are advocating for the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights to take effect in the state of Illinois. The proposal would ensure an enforceable right for crime victims who want to participate and have a voice in the criminal process as a result of the crime perpetrated upon them.

November Ballot

According to the article mentioned, a victim rights group known as Marsy’s Law of Illinois is advocating for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would guarantee that a victim or his or her surviving family members would have an opportunity to address the court if his or her rights have been violated. The amendment is included on today’s ballot and voters can choose to afford additional protections to crime victims by voting yes to the proposal. This amendment would strengthen victim rights by creating a method by which to enforce them, not just acknowledge them. It gives victims who have been denied certain rights a way to remedy the situation.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Not only can an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney advise you of your rights, but they can also advise you of what to expect from the other side in a criminal case. A change to victim rights in Illinois could represent important considerations for every criminal defendant to be aware of and take into account in defending their case. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation.

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