Being the victim of a crime disrupts life and can leave you feeling alone, hollow and vulnerable. Depending on the severity of the crime and the damage done or loss inflicted, it can take from a few months to a lifetime to recover your footing and feel reasonably whole again. Feelings of fear, shock, anger and vulnerability are common.
Colorado's government and citizens believe strongly in protecting the rights of crime victims and doing what they can to aid the healing process. For this reason, in 1992, the voters amended the state constitution to include the Victims Rights Amendment. This legislation, known as the Victim Rights Act, has been amended numerous times over the years, including as recently as 2012, in order to give crime victims a more active role in the workings of the criminal justice process.
The rights of victims are laid out in 29 guaranteed rights and accompanied by clear-cut responsibilities explained for:
The District Attorney's office
The Department of Corrections
The Juvenile Parole Board
The Department of Human Services & State Hospital
The Probation Department
Once a conviction has been obtained, among the rights afforded crime victims is the promise of notification by the authorities of the following seven things:*
The institution where the convicted person is being held
The person's projected release date
Advance notice of any release of the person, including work release, furlough or
Scheduled parole hearings and changes in the hearing schedules
Any escape of the person from a correctional facility or program
Any releases or discharge of the person and the conditions of the release
The death of the person in the correctional facility or program
*Notification must be requested in writing by victim of the crime
In addition, the victims of crime also have responsibilities that will assist the criminal justice system in serving them. These include:
Keep appropriate criminal justice authorities informed of their and their
representative's current name and contact information
Provide a written request to the appropriate agency if they want to be notified of
information regarding the post-sentencing process
For victims of cold cases for which the crime has a statute of limitations of longer than
three years, to request in writing an annual update of the status of the case
To request notification of the release of the person accused or convicted of a crime
from the county jail
To request notification by the court of a defendant's petition to stop sex offenders
To request that correctional officials keep their address, telephone, place of
employment and other personal information confidential
There are also resources provided to help the victims of crimes, including financial assistance for needs arising as a result of the crime. A victim may apply for compensation for costs related to medical expenses, lost employment, mental health treatment, burial expenses, loss of medically necessary devices, loss of support to dependents and damage to home security. To apply for such assistance, contact the local District Attorney's Office.
Being the victim of a crime can affect a person physically, mentally and emotionally for years after the actual offense. If you are the victim of a crime, not only do you law enforcement behind you, but the Office for Victims Programs (OVP) is available to help you fully exercise your rights. For more information about victims' rights, including the opportunity to download a brochure, visit http://dcj.state.co.us/ovp/.
If you have been the victim of a crime in Colorado resulting in personal injury to you or your loved ones, contact Bachus & Schanker, LLC for help obtaining the assistance and representation you need to bring a measure of healing to your family.