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Victim Representation

In a criminal matter there are two parties - the Commonwealth and the Defendant.  A defendant, rightly so, has many constitutional protections and other statutory rights.  The Commonwealth also has statutory and state constitutional rights.  Although a Victim is not actually a party to a criminal action, they have rights in the criminal justice process, too.

The Crime Victim's Rights Act codifies the rights of a Victim.  And, as importantly, defines who can be a "victim" under Virginia Law.

Virginia Code Section 19.2-11.01(B) says "victim" means: (i) a person who has suffered physical, psychological, or economic harm as a direct result of the commission of (a) a felony, (b) assault and battery in violation of § 18.2-57 or 18.2-57.2, stalking in violation of § 18.2-60.3, a violation of a protective order in violation of § 16.1-253.2 or 18.2-60.4, sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4, attempted sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.5, or maiming or driving while intoxicated in violation of § 18.2-51.4 or 18.2-266, or (c) a delinquent act that would be a felony or a misdemeanor violation of any offense enumerated in clause (b) if committed by an adult; (ii) a spouse or child of such a person; (iii) a parent or legal guardian of such a person who is a minor; (iv) for the purposes of subdivision A 4 only, a current or former foster parent or other person who has or has had physical custody of such a person who is a minor, for six months or more or for the majority of the minor's life; or (v) a spouse, parent, sibling, or legal guardian of such a person who is physically or mentally incapacitated or was the victim of a homicide; however, "victim" does not mean a parent, child, spouse, sibling, or legal guardian who commits a felony or other enumerated criminal offense against a victim as defined in clause (i).

You can see that the definition is very broad.

Some rights a Victim has:

  • the right to testify about the impact a crime has had on them personally
  • the right to write a statement to the sentencing judge about the impact
  • the right to attend all court hearings (see Virginia Code Section 40.1-28.7:2)
  • the right to certain protections by law enforcement, including exclusion from the defendant at court proceedings
  • the right to potential financial assistance if a claim is accepted by the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund
  • the right to restitution and return of property held as evidence at the conclusion of criminal proceedings
  • the right to be consulted regarding plea negotiations and disposition of the case

The list above sets forth many, but not every, right a Victim may have.  A Victim of a crime may also have civil remedies.  That is to say, a Victim may have the right to sue a person who has harmed them for negligence or an intentional tort. 

A Victim may also have the right to Move to Quash a Subpoena Duces Tecum ("SDT").  An SDT issued in a criminal case by a party to the case (like the Defendant) may seek personal information from a Victim.  The Commonwealth, for a variety of reasons may not Move to Quash (or get rid of) the SDT.  That does not mean the Victim cannot make such a motion.

If you are the Victim of a crime in Fairfax County or elsewhere in Northern Virginia, and you would like to discuss your concerns, contact us today for a free consultation.  (Remember: An attorney representing a Victim does not and cannot take the place of the Commonwealth's Attorney.  However, a victim rights attorney can help you assert your rights and help protect your interests in the prosecution and outcome of a case.)

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We offer a free consultation, in-person or virtually on video, and will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, day or evening, weekday or weekend. We answer calls day or night.

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