Whether you’re a victim of a crime or you’re charged with a crime, it’s important to understand crime victim rights. Pennsylvania law affords people who may be the victims of crime certain rights. They have the right to access certain information about the case as well as participate in sentencing proceedings. Our criminal defense attorney team explains crime victim rights in Bucks County.
Crime victim rights in Bucks County are based in Pennsylvania law. While the exact details vary by type of crime, there are some things that are common to all cases. The purpose is to ensure that the victim has a voice in the proceedings and access to information and resources.
Does a victim choose whether to extend a plea offer in a criminal case?
No, a victim does not get to choose whether to extend a plea offer in a criminal case. Ultimately, it’s the district attorney or prosecutor that decides that. A victim can offer input about extending an offer. However, it’s the government official that prosecutes the case that makes the final decision about whether to extend a plea offer.
The prosecutor represents the state in general. Although a significant part of that representation is pursuing justice on behalf of the victim, they represent society as a whole and not strictly the victim. As a defendant, your criminal defense attorney approaches the state attorney to discuss plea bargains, if appropriate. They do not approach the victim to discuss non-trial resolutions to a case.
Victim participation in a criminal case
From the defendant’s standpoint, there are two most notable parts of a victim’s participation in a criminal case:
Impact statement at sentencing
The victim may choose to make an impact statement at sentencing. The statement may be oral or written. A victim may tell the court how the crime has impacted them and how they would like the court to fashion a sentence. The court may or may not follow the victim’s suggestions. They may also receive notice when a defendant is released from incarceration.
A victim has the right to be made whole financially, as much as possible. They may tell the court about the financial losses that they have because of the offense. Then, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution as part of their criminal sentence.
This is separate from the victim’s right to bring a civil case. A defendant has the right to contest the amount of restitution if they disagree. In addition, the victim has the right to have property returned once it’s no longer needed for prosecution.
Crime victim rights in criminal cases
If you’re facing charges, let our criminal defense attorneys help you understand the role that crime victim rights may play in the case. It’s important to know about all aspects of a case including what to expect in court. Our team can help you with addressing the charges against you in the best way.