Legal Info

Victim's Rights

Though most discussions of criminal law revolve around the rights of the suspects, it’s important to understand that victims in Tennessee also have rights. Though a terrible thing happened, it can be good to know that you are not powerless and that you are entitled to certain treatment during the otherwise difficult process.

What are your rights as a victim?

Back in 1998, the Tennessee Constitution was amended to include a provision concerning victims’ rights. The language is found in Article 1, Section 35 of the state’s Constitution. The constitutional amendment says that victims have the right to discuss their case with prosecutors and to be present at all stages of the process where the defendant also has the right to be present. Victims have the right to be free from intimidation and harassment throughout the criminal proceeding and to be informed of all proceedings relating to the release, transfer, escape or recapture of the defendant.Victims also have the right to be heard at all critical stages of the criminal process and similarly have the right to a speedy trial and a prompt resolution of the criminal matter. Finally, the victim has the right to restitution from the defendant.

Can you sue?

Though the crime happened to you, only the government is allowed to press charges and prosecute criminals for their illegal activity. Though victims cannot bring criminal suits against their attackers, they are absolutely entitled to bring a civil lawsuit for whatever damages they have suffered from the crime.

Are you entitled to financial compensation?

Though it may come as a surprise, the victims of some crimes, especially those involving personal injuries or terrible violence, can actually receive financial compensation from the government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Program.This program was designed to provide financial assistance to innocent victims or the surviving family members of victims who suffered serious trauma due to violent crime. Eligible crimes generally include things like murder, aggravated assault, sexual assault, robbery and drunk driving.

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