Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Criminal Justice, Crime, Victimology, Sexual Abuse, Discrimination, Victim, Law, Social Issues

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/10/12

Victims’ Rights

Victims’ Rights
The idea, that victims had no rights, seems unbelievable, but over thirty years ago, not much could be said or done regarding the victim’s role in the criminal case in which they were the sufferer. Victims’ rights are a concept that was introduced into the legal system over an extended period. A milestone for victims' rights was made in 1984 with the passing of legislation on the Victims of Crimes Act. Many advances in the victims’ rights movement have occurred over the decades since then ("Victims of Crime", 2013). Every single state within the United States has rights and protection for the victims of crime; however, slight differences exist between states based on their statutory code ("Victim Law", 2015).

Victims’ Rights in Georgia

The state of Georgia has the Georgia's Victims' Bill of Rights, ensuring that victims of crime have a legal right to notification in all phases of the criminal justice proceedings involving the case against the accused individual. This law makes it mandatory for police, prosecution, and the custodial party of the criminal to inform the victim of any actions taken regarding the felon ("Criminal Justice Coordinating Counsel", n.d.).
When an individual finds him or herself as a victim of a crime, there is psychological stress and trauma that follows the event of the offence. It would go against fundamental human rights if the legal system did not acknowledge this difficult incident and treat the victim with care and concern,which is done by including the individual in matters regarding the case. The victim obviously will not be responsible for the sentencing of the criminal; although their presence, the right to speak in court, consideration of their opinion on the proceedings, as well as keeping them informed on the whereabouts of the felon is mandatory by the state of Georgia's law on victims' rights.
In a detailed research on the victims' rights legislation in the state of Georgia, one can find the following situations in which a victim has rights that the state acknowledges: crimes against the person; sex crimes; burglary; arson; forgery; sales or distribution of harmful materials to minors; any and all harm caused by vehicles (homicide, feticide, and severe injury) ("Criminal Justice Coordinating Counsel", n.d.).
One of the primary factors of how a victim’s rights can influence the criminal proceedings involves the victim’s impact statement. The victim’s impact statement is a written or oral statement allowing the victim to express how the crime has damaged them. According to National Center for Victims of Crime (2012), “A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender's sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant a parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender.”
On behalf of the victim's rights, the impact statement is a fair procedure to recognize the harm experienced by the victims because of the crimes committed. At the same time, it can become an unfair use of biased information during a trial. The victim's statement is likely full of emotion and a perspective that is not going to include only factual evidence. One can see this becoming a problem when a judge and jury are influenced in their decision-making by hearing a victim's impact statement.
“In 1991, in Payne v. Tennessee,(4) the Supreme Court upheld the admission of victim impact statements in capital sentencing hearings, reasoning that victim impact evidence demonstrated the harm of the crime and that harm was a proper factor to consider in deciding whether a defendant should die for his crimes” (Phillips, 1997, para. 2). All 50 states acknowledge the victim's impact statement as evidence in the sentencing process, which does not seem acceptable when one thinks of the legal proceedings. Citizens have entitlement to a fair trial with the use of factual evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the individual, as well as what type of punishment may follow. The impact statement is a biased piece of information used that does not fall into the fact-based practices meant to be upheld by the judiciary system as evidence in a legal proceeding. The impact statement is the only aspect of the victims' rights laws that seemed flawed in the court system. Of course, a victim should have rights and be able to share their experience, however, use of this information as evidence seems unjust and against the principles of the legal system.


Criminal Justice Coordinating Counsel. (n.d.). Retrieved from
National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Victim impact statement. Retrieved from
Phillips, A. K. (1997, Fall). Thou shalt not kill any nice people: The problem of victims' impact
statements on capital sentencing problem. American Criminal Law Review, 35(1),. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-20361539/thou-shalt-not-kill-any-nice-people-the-problem-of
Victim Law. (2015). Retrieved from
Victims of crime. (2013). Retrieved from

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