As the victim in a criminal case, you have the right to be involved in sentencing the defendant. In the following paragraphs, a skilled victims rights lawyer addresses this procedure and how you may take part.
There was a time when, if you were injured as the result of a criminal act, you pressed charges and testified at court; that was usually the extent of your involvement. Over the last 40 years, laws have been enacted to ensure that victims of criminal acts are not overlooked and that their rights are secure.
These laws are in place nationwide. They stipulate that you have the right to take part in the sentencing of the offender and address the court as to the effect that the crime has had on you and your life. This is termed a victim impact statement, and it is universal in victim’s rights legislation. You have the right to attend any courtroom proceedings that have to do with your case and your victims rights attorney can be there with you.
This right is yours at both the federal and state levels, and it gives you the opportunity to be heard. This is where you explain to the jury the extent of the harm that has been done to you. If the case is a homicide or if the victim is unable to speak due to incapacitation, the victim’s family can speak instead. This may be done at trial, or the victim’s impact statement may be incorporated into the presentence report. Saving minor offense cases, these are usually developed at a point between the time the offender is convicted and the time sentencing is scheduled.
Depending on the laws in effect in your state, you may be able to give your thoughts concerning what the sentence should be. The court is, by law, able to take your views into account but the final decision always rests with the judge.
If you are the victim of a crime, you need a strong victims rights lawyer on your side. Contact the Law Office of Michael L. Fell, a Professional Corporation, at (949) 585-9055.