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Cassia Home :: Judicial :: Prosecuting Attorney :: Victim Rights FAQ's

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 sexual offense."

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 offense.

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 proceedings?
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 for parole?
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 or hearings.

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 pre-sentence report?
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 conviction?
 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 deserved?
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 Constitution?
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 overturned?
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 court process?
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 his/her offender?
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 www.state.id.us

 
 
 
 

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