Most people only think of the person getting arrested when it comes to criminal law. But in Connecticut victims of crime have rights too! If you’ve been the victim of a crime, you’re entitled to participate in the process and have your voice heard. Navigating the criminal process and dealing with the effects of having been victimized can be stressful and time consuming.
Were you the victim of domestic violence? Sexual assault? Property damage? Hit and run? Drunk driving? Is the defendant someone you know or have regular contact with? Victims are entitled to protection from the accused from the date of arrest. Connecticut criminal protective orders come in three types, full no contact order (no contact at all), residential stay-away (some contact but the accused cannot approach the victim’s residence), and limited protective order (least stringent) which means no further assaultive or harassing behavior but contact and living together is allowed. From arraignment through sentencing and probation, you are entitled to be protected. And along the way, you are entitled to be notified about the status of the case. Connecticut guarantees these rights in its Constitution.
Does the prosecutor have a plea agreement with the defendant? You are guaranteed a chance to speak with the court before that plea is officially accepted. What about sentencing? You are guaranteed a chance to speak before the judge issues a sentence. Do you want them to drop the charges against a family member? Do you want the prosecution to object to a defendant’s program application? Do you want them to take the defendant to trial? Receiving the opportunity to voice these opinions to the prosecutor is something you are guaranteed. Talking to the prosecution isn’t all you are entitled to. You also have the right to speak directly to the court at any critical stage of the case! As for the actual prosecution of the case, you have a constitutional right to communicate the impact of the case on you to the prosecution and court and request specific orders and result (they may not do what you say, but they HAVE to listen and ask you before a case is resolved).
Types of requests that can be included in your victim impact statement to the prosecutor and court are: Standing Criminal Restraining Order (SCRO) that can last even after a period of probation expires; counseling services if related to the issues involved in the crime such as alcohol. Drug, mental health and anger management counseling; restitution for out of pocket expenses related to the crime such as damage to property, medical expenses, rental car, and lost wages.
Now, while restitution directly from the defendant can be available as a condition of the program, plea and/or probation, victims can also seek funds from the Victim Compensation Program (VCP). The VCP, run by the Office of Victim Services, offers resources to victims that incur expenses that aren’t covered by traditional insurance protections. The Program offers varying levels of assistance for victims of crimes for things like medical issues, lost wages, court proceedings, and more. For more about the VCP, you can check out the Office of Victim Services.
Victims have important interests at stake in a Connecticut criminal proceeding. l can help navigate these issues and make sure your interests are protected. If you have any further questions on victim’s rights in Connecticut please give me a call or set up a virtual appointment by calling Bayer and Black, P.C. 203-762-0751.