Illinois Voters Approve Expanded Victim Rights Law
During the November 2014 elections, voters in Illinois were given the chance to vote on a state constitutional amendment to expand the current crime victim rights law. The initiative to amend the Illinois constitution to include the crime victims’ bill of rights passed by over 77 percent of votes cast.
Rights of Crime Victims in Illinois
Currently, Illinois law provides rights for crime victims and witnesses under the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act. This law defines crime victims to include people who have been physically injured or lost property due to another person committing a violent crime against them. It also includes a family member, such a spouse or child who is not the accused perpetrator of the crime, of a person who is killed as a result of a violent crime in Illinois or who is mentally or physically incapable of exercising the rights granted under the law.
Illinois crime victims have the right to:
- Be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process;
- Notification of court proceedings relating to their cases;
- Communicate with the prosecution;
- Make a statement to the court at sentencing;
- Information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment and release of the accused;
- Have the case tried in a timely manner following the arrest of the accused;
- Be reasonably protected from the accused;
- Be present at the trial and all other court proceedings unless the victim is be a witness as well; and
However, proponents of Marsy’s Law campaigned for greater protections of these rights, as they said that they were not being enforced, and the victim had no way to get the enforcement. Under the proposed amendment, the Illinois Constitution would be changed to guarantee certain rights to victims. Under the new victim rights law, victims would be:
- Provided the right to be informed of court proceedings;
- Provided the right to be present at trials and hearings regarding their case;
- Provided the right to present a written statement to the court about the impact a violent crime has had on them;
- Provided greater access to post trial proceedings;
- Provided timely action on victims’ request; and
- Allowed to appeal decisions that affect the exercise of their personal rights;
With the rights guaranteed under the constitution, it is meant to be easier for the crime victims to seek enforcement of the rights, which they may not do now. Therefore, for example, if a crime victim wanted to make an impact statement during a sentencing hearing, and was not given that opportunity, the crime victim could ask a court to cause the hearing to be held again.
Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges for an offense against a person, you need a strong defense from an experienced team of Naperville criminal defense attorneys. Contact the offices of Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a consultation on your case today.