Your Victim Rights

1) Introduction

As a victim, you may have experienced injury, loss, confusion and a disruption of your life. Feelings of shock, disbelief, fear, vulnerability, anger and frustration may result. Having information and an understanding about the system may be helpful to you at this time.
Once a crime is reported, a person who is a victim of crime becomes part of the criminal justice system. It can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating experience. There are victim/witness advocates throughout Colorado to provide support and assistance to victims during the process. This page has been prepared to assist you in understanding your rights and to answer commonly asked questions. Because victims are such an important part of the criminal justice process, in November, 1992, the voters of Colorado passed a resolution to include Victim Rights as part of the State's constitution.
The law states:
Any person who is a victim of a criminal act or such person's designee, legal guardian, or surviving immediate family members if such person is deceased, shall have the right to be kept informed of the proceedings and the right to be present at all critical stages of the criminal justice process. All terminology, including the term "critical stages", shall be defined by the general assembly. (Article II, Section 16A Colorado State Constitution and C.R.S. § 24-4.1-301 et. seq.)

2) Crimes Covered by the Victim Rights Act

The Constitution of the State of Colorado and the laws of the state (C.R.S. § 24-4.1-302 (1)) guarantee certain rights to the victims of the following criminal acts:

If the victim is deceased or incapacitated, these rights may be exercised by the victim's spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, significant other, or other lawful representative.

3) Critical Stages

A victim's rights are exercised during specified timeframes of the criminal justice prosecution. There are specific timeframes that are referred to as "critical stages" in the criminal justice process. These stages include:

* In addition to the right to be informed and present, the victim also has a right to be heard at hearings on bond reduction, disposition of the case (e.g., acceptance of a negotiated plea), and at sentencing, including modification of sentence. The victim also has a right to provide input to the court regarding continuances.

4) The Victim Rights Act

The original Victim Rights Act became effective in January, 1993 after the law was signed by then-Governor Romer. The Victim Rights Act was amended in 1995, 1997, and 2000. The Victim Rights Act provides victims an active role in the criminal justice process in an attempt to balance the scales of justice. The following is a summary of the rights guaranteed by the Victim Rights Act (For a complete listing of your rights, please refer to Colorado Revised Statutes § 24-4.1-301 through § 24-4.1-304.):

Additional rights and services are provided to child victims or witnesses. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges are encouraged to designate one or more individuals to try to assure the child and their family understand the legal proceedings and have support and assistance to deal with the emotional impact of the crime and the subsequent criminal proceedings.

5) District Attorney's Responsibilities: