Friday, August 3, 2012

The Responsibility to the Victim

The best part of DA work is the flexibility.  Our client is the state, not one individual.  Therefore, we are not tied to the wishes of one person when thinking about the outcome.

However, like I've said before, the crime didn't happen to us.  That's why there are certain ethical and statutory requirements we must follow with respect to the victims. 

After a crime, it is our duty to inform the victim that there are groups and services in place.  In my office, we have employees called victim advocates.  If requested, they will sit down with the victim and explain restitution issues, counseling options, and generally how a case moves through the system.  The path of a case is something an ADA should discuss as well.

The victim also has the right to know about certain proceedings, like the arrest, arraignment, bail proceedings, entry of a guilty plea, trial dates, sentencing dates, and the possible penalties.

If there is a parole hearing, the DA's office must notify the victim of their right to provide a statement to it.  The victim can also request notification when the defendant is released following his sentence. 

The DA does not need to consult the victim regarding plea offers in certain non-serious cases.  Common sense tells us that this is the better practice though.  These conversations range from relief that the victim does not have to come to court to indignation that the DA wants to offer a plea.  In homicides, child cases, and certain others, we must consult the victim or their family about the plea. 

Even though we don't have clients, we still have a responsibility to the citizens and the victim to have a direct and prompt conversation about the case events.  In many of my cases, the victims don't have an opinion as to the outcome.  I've heard the phrase "however the courts want to handle it" more often than any other. 

But all victims should know they still have rights.  Fore more information check out the links here and here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. It's always better when the ADA keeps the family involved. We already feel so powerless, it helps to be involved in the process. For some of us, that is. Others don't want to know anything though and will leave it up to the ADA because the whole justice system thing really drags on. I was one who wanted to be involved in every aspect!