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:

  • Murder - 1st and 2nd Degree
  • Manslaughter
  • Criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide
  • Assault - 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree, vehicular assault
  • Menacing
  • Kidnapping - 1st and 2nd degree
  • Sexual Assault - all
  • Robbery - aggravated, aggravated of a controlled substance
  • Incest and aggravated incest
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Crimes against at-risk adults or at-risk juveniles
  • Crimes for which the underlying foundation has been determined to be domestic violence
  • Careless driving that results in the death of another person
  • Failure to stop at the scene of an accident that results in the death of another person
  • Stalking
  • Ethnic intimidation
  • Retaliation against a victim or witness
  • Tampering with a victim or witness
  • Any criminal attempt, conspiracy, criminal solicitation, or accessory involving any of the crimes specified above.
  • Human traffiking - children and adults
  • First degree burglary
  • Retaliation against a judge or juror

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:

  • The filing of charges
  • The preliminary hearing
  • Any bond reduction or modification hearing*
  • Arraignment hearing
  • Motions hearing concerning pre-plea relief or post-plea relief or evidentiary matters
  • Disposition of the complaint or charges against the person accused*
  • The trial
  • Sentencing hearing*
  • Appellate review or appellate decision
  • Sentence modification*
  • Probation revocation hearing
  • The filing of a complaint, summons, or warrant by probation for failure to report or because location of a person convicted of a crime is unknown
  • Request for change of venue or transfer of probation supervision
  • Request for release from probation supervision prior to the expiration of original sentence
  • Attack of a judgment or conviction
  • Parole application hearing
  • Parole, release, or discharge from imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime
  • Parole revocation hearing
  • Transfer to or placement of a person convicted of a crime in a non-secured facility
  • Transfer, release, or escape of a person charged with or convicted of a crime from any state hospital.

* 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.):

  • To be treated with fairness, respect and dignity
  • To be informed of and present for all "critical stages" of the criminal justice process
  • To be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, and the right to be informed about what steps can be taken if there is any intimidation or harassment by a person accused or convicted of the crime or anyone acting on the person's behalf
  • To be present and heard regarding bond reduction, acceptance of plea negotiations, case disposition, sentencing, or modification of sentence
  • To consult with the District Attorney prior to any disposition of the case or before the case goes to trial and to be informed of the final disposition of the case
  • To be informed of the status of the case and any scheduling changes or cancellations, if known in advance
  • To prepare a Victim Impact Statement and to be present and/or heard at sentencing
  • To have restitution ordered and to be informed of the right to pursue a civil judgment against the person convicted of the crime
  • To a prompt return of the victim's property when no longer needed as evidence
  • To be informed of the availability of financial assistance and community services
  • To be given appropriate employer intercession services regarding court appearances and meetings with criminal justice officials
  • To be assured that in any criminal proceeding the court, the prosecutor, and other law enforcement officials will take appropriate action to achieve a swift and fair resolution of the proceedings
  • Whenever practicable, to have a safe and secure waiting area during court proceedings
  • Upon request, to be informed when a person accused or convicted of the crime is released from custody, is paroled, escapes or absconds from probation or parole
  • Upon written request, to be informed of and heard at any reconsideration of sentence, parole hearing, or commutation of sentence
  • Upon written request, to be informed when a person convicted of a crime against the victim is placed in or transferred to a less secure correctional facility or program or is permanently or conditionally transferred or released from any state hospital
  • To view all or a portion of the presentence report of the probation department at the discretion of the District Attorney
  • To be informed of the results of any court-ordered HIV testing
  • To be informed of any rights which the victim has pursuant to the constitutions of the United States or of the State of Colorado
  • To be informed of the process for enforcing compliance with the Victim Rights Act

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:

  • Inform the victim of the filing of charges and provide an explanation of the charges
  • Inform the victim of appropriate critical stages and the date, time and place of all critical stages in the court proceedings
  • Inform the victim of the deputy district attorney handling the case and the court to which the case is assigned
  • Inform the victim of any pending motion that may substantially delay the prosecution and inform the court of the victim's position on the motion
  • Inform the victim of the availability of any benefits and/or transportation to and from court
  • Inform the victim of any scheduling changes or cancellations, if such changes or cancellations are known in advance
  • Consult, where practicable, with the victim concerning the reduction of charges, negotiated pleas, dismissal or other dispositions
  • Minimize contact between the victim and defendant before, during, and immediately after a judicial proceeding
  • Facilitate prompt return of a victim's property when it is no longer needed for evidentiary reasons
  • Provide the victim with a victim impact statement that is given to the Court
  • Inform the victim of the function of a presentence report and the name and telephone number of the probation office preparing the report, as well as the defendant's right to view the presentence report and victim impact statement
  • Explain the victim's right to attend and express an opinion at the sentencing hearing
  • Inform the victim of any hearing for reconsideration or modification of a sentence
  • Provide information from correctional officials concerning the imprisonment and release of a person convicted of a crime

6) Victim Survey Forms: