Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the victims’ rights law designed to protect?
To whom does the victims’ rights law apply?
The intent of the victims’’ rights law is to protect and
inform victims of crime. The letter of the statute provides
guidelines with which the state must comply, but it is the
victims’ responsibility to declare themselves as victims by
completing a written request on a form provided by the
prosecuting attorney which should then be given to the clerk
of the district court. (Idaho Code 19-5306(2)).
Who is a victim?
Victim is defined in Idaho Code §19-5306(5)(a):
"Victim is an individual who suffers direct or threatened
physical, financial or emotional harm as the result of the
commission of a crime or juvenile offense."
What does the word "crime" mean in this law?
According to Idaho Code §19-5306(5)(b), "criminal
offense is any charged felony or a misdemeanor involving
physical injury, or the threat of physical injury, or a
What if the victim is a minor?
If the victim is a minor, the minor's immediate
family is also classified as "victims," allowing the family
to secure victims’ rights for the minor or themselves. Idaho
Code §19-5306(3), see also §19-5304(1)(e).
Who are considered victims in a homicide?
As in the case of a minor, the immediate family of
the actual victim in homicide cases can be considered to be
the victim under Idaho Code §19-5306(3). See also §19-5304(1)(e).
What crimes are covered by art. 1, sec. 22 of the Idaho
Constitution and Idaho Code 19-5306?
Does a person have to be the victim of a
violent crime to receive victims’ rights?
Idaho Code §19-5306 provides victims’ rights
to any individual who is a "victim" of crime or a juvenile
What are victims’ rights?
When do victims’ rights begin?
Upon the filing by the prosecutor of a criminal
complaint or juvenile petition, the prosecutor is required
to inform the victim of the provisions of Idaho Code §19-5306. A victim's rights begin after the victim has
completed a written request form provided by the prosecuting
attorney which is then given to the clerk of the district
court. The clerk will then notify the appropriate
authorities of the victim's requests. Information and
notices will be given to the victim at the address provided
unless the victim subsequently provides a different address.
Are victims allowed to attend court
Yes. Victims can be present at all justice
proceedings or juvenile proceedings unless there is a
conflict with a subpoena which has been issued.
How does the victim know when the offender
is going to trial, receives sentencing, appeals, or is up
Section 19-5306 entitles the victim to prior
notification of trial court, appellate and parole
proceedings. The victim must request information about the
offender’s sentence, incarceration or release.
Who is responsible for notifying the
victim throughout the court proceedings?
Because practices vary from county to county, the
section does not specify who should inform the victim except
where probation is considered following a period of retained
jurisdiction, but most counties have delegated the
responsibility to the prosecuting attorneys because they
represent the victim. Counties should develop a clear
protocol which ensures victim notification. Where probation
following retained jurisdiction is being considered, the
prosecutor is required to give notice to the victim.
Does the victim have the right to make a
statement to the court?
Both art. 1, sec. 22 of the Idaho Constitution and
Idaho Code §19-5306 guarantee a victim’s right to be
"heard upon request" at all criminal justice proceedings
considering a plea of guilty, sentencing, incarceration or
release of the defendant. The right to be heard extends only
to these proceedings and does not apply to all proceedings
Can the prosecutor enter into a plea
agreement without the victim’s knowledge?
Yes. If the victim does not communicate with the
prosecuting attorney after having been notified that
discussion concerning a plea agreement will take place.
How can a victim influence the sentence
given the criminal defendant?
The sentence given a criminal defendant is solely in
the judge's discretion. However, the victim has the right to
be consulted in the pre-sentence investigation and to have a
statement of the impact the crime had on the victim included
in the pre-sentence report. As noted in the answer to
question 11, the victim also has the right to be heard at
the sentencing hearing.
Is a victim allowed to see a copy of the
Under Idaho law, pre-sentence investigation reports
are confidential; however, Idaho Code §19-5306(1)(h)
grants the victim the right to read the pre-sentence report
prior to the sentencing hearing. The victim is not entitled
to keep a copy of the report and may not disclose or discuss
the contents of the report except in conversations with the
prosecutor or statements of the court.
Will the victim be notified if the
defendant escapes or is released from custody prior to final
Yes. The victim should be given notice by the law
enforcement authority "from whose custody the defendant was
released" or escaped (Idaho Code §19-5306(1)(i)). For
example, if release is granted by the commission of pardons
and parole, the commission shall notify the victim.
What can a victim do if the offender does
not receive the sentence that the victim feels the offender
Nothing. The state employs judges, attorneys and
support staff to ensure that justice is delivered. At times,
a victim may argue that a criminal’s sentence was not severe
enough; however, the length of time a criminal spends in
prison does not necessarily represent the long-term effects
the crime has on their life. Convicted criminals who serve
jail time, no matter how long, are permanently affected in
the work force and in society.
What can victims do if their rights are violated?
Can civil action be taken against the
prosecutor, court or police if the prosecutor, court or
other authority fails to comply with the provisions of Idaho
Code §19-5306 or art. 1, sec. 22 of the Idaho
The amendment does not provide for any money
damages against these agencies. (Idaho Code §19-5306(4)).
If the courts do not comply with the
victims’ rights amendment, can the court's decision be
A violation of the victim’s rights does not
constitute a mistrial (Idaho Code §19-5306(4)).
What remedies are available to a victim for
violation of rights outlined in art. 1, sec. 22 of the Idaho
Constitution or Idaho Code §19-5306?
Neither the statute nor the constitution outline any
specific remedies for victims for violations of victims’
rights. Both the statute and the constitution make it clear
that violations of either may not serve as the basis of an
action for monetary damages against the police, prosecutor
or the courts. Similarly, failure to comply with art. 1,
sec. 22, or §19-5306 cannot serve as the basis for
overturning any criminal judgment.
Although not yet determined by a court, it appears the
constitutional provision and statute might serve as the
basis for injunctive action by a crime victim seeking a
court order against an officer or governmental entity who
fails or refuses to give the notice required by the
constitution or under §19-5306. This issue, however, has
yet to be resolved in court.
How can victims best serve themselves and their families
during the court proceedings?
What is the easiest way for a prosecutor
to keep the family of a homicide victim informed during the
An easy way to keep family and friends informed
during the course of a trial is to appoint one family
member, who has time to be present during the proceedings,
to represent the family. Provide the prosecutor with one
phone number and one address where the prosecutor will be
able to reach the designated family member on a regular
basis. See Idaho Code §19-5306(3).
What does a victim, who is afraid for his
or her life, do to keep informed of the whereabouts of
The victim should provide the prosecuting attorney
with a number where the victim, or someone close to them,
may be reached, even though it is not mandatory that the
prosecutor call the victim. Most information concerning the
case will be mailed to the victim, but the victim may call
correction facilities and the prosecuting attorney for
information regarding the case.
can a victim turn if the victim has
questions regarding court procedure and process?
The courts, prosecutors and some law enforcement
entities have victim coordinators who assist victims in
their dealings with the courts. Questions can also be
answered by clerks of the court and prosecuting attorneys.
Does Idaho law provide for the financial
compensation of crime victims?
Yes. Title 19, chapter 53, Idaho Code, and title 72,
chapter 10, Idaho Code, both cover rights of crime victims
to compensation. The provisions of title 19, chapter 53
address the rights of the victim to compensation from the
person found guilty of the crime resulting in harm or injury
to the victim. Title 72, chapter 10 addresses the state’s
crime victims’ compensation fund. The Idaho Code may be
found at the county law library or accessed from the State
of Idaho’s home page on the internet at