THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI GIVES THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS TO VICTIMS OR CRIME:
[Section 26(a)] Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and to be informed, to be present and to be heard, when authorized by law, during public hearings.
To implement the Constitutional Amendment, the Mississippi Legislature passed the Victims’ Bill of Rights, which provides certain rights to victims of the following violent offenses:
Felonies which involve physical injury or the threat of physical injury;
Any sexual offense;
Any offense involving spousal abuse or domestic violence;
Burglary of a dwelling house.
If the crime that has been committed against you fits into one of those categories, you may assert your rights by signing the form entitled, Request To Exercise Victim’s Rights, and sending it to the prosecuting attorney. If the victim of the crime is physically or emotionally unable to exercise these rights, he/she may designate in writing a person to be his/her representative. If the victim is deceased, the court will appoint a representative who is not a witness to the crime. If the victim is a minor, a family member may be designated as the victim’s representative or the court may appoint a representative for the child. The victim who is represented by another person may decide to personally exercise his/her rights as soon as he/she is physically, mentally, emotionally or legally competent to do so.
The law enforcement officer assigned to your case will go over your rights with you and will give you information about the criminal justice system and the availability of support services within your area. He or she will also give you the name, address and telephone number of the appropriate prosecuting attorney. By signing and mailing the Request To Exercise Victim’s Rights, and by continuing to provide the prosecuting attorney with any changes to your address or telephone number, you are asserting the following rights:
- To be notified of all charges filed against any person for the crime committed against you.
- To be notified of any criminal proceedings, other than the initial appearance, as soon as practical, and of any changes that may occur.
- To talk with the prosecutor prior to the final disposition of your case, including giving your views on any nol pros (dismissal), reduction of charge, sentence recommendation and pretrial diversion programs.
- To talk with the prosecutor prior to the beginning of the trial.
- To receive a transcript of the trial, at your own cost.
- To have the trial held without unreasonable delay. (The trial judge, in determining whether to grant any continuance, should make every reasonable effort to consider what effect granting the continuance would have on the victim.)
- To be present throughout all criminal proceedings, including any hearings, arguments or other matters scheduled by and held before a judge, but not including lineups, grand jury hearings or any other matter not held in the presence of the judge.
- To be provided a waiting area at trial separate from the defendant, his relatives and his witnesses. (If a separate waiting room is not available or its use is impractical, the judge is to do what is possible to minimize contact of the victim with the defendant, his relatives or defense witnesses.)
- To have the prosecutor petition the court that you or any other witness not be compelled to testify at any pre-trial proceeding or at trial to any facts concerning your identity, residence or place of employment that could put you in danger if you have been threatened with physical violence or intimidated by the defendant or anyone connected with him.
- To be present at any proceeding where the defendant is going to enter a guilty plea and be sentenced. (The judge cannot accept a guilty plea unless you are present or the prosecutor can assure the judge that every reasonable effort has been made to contact you and notify you of your right to be present. At the hearing, the victim has the right to present to the judge an impact statement or any information about the criminal offense or the sentence.)
- To be given the date of a conviction, acquittal or dismissal of the charges.
- To be given, after a conviction, information about the function of a pre-sentence report and the name, address and telephone number of the probation officer preparing this report for the judge and about the right of the defendant to view the pre-sentence report.
- To make an oral or written impact statement to the probation officer preparing the pre-sentence report for the judge. (In making his/her report, the probation officer will consider the economic, physical and psychological impact of the crime on the victim and the victim’s family.)
- To be present at sentencing and to give the judge an impact statement or any information that concerns the criminal offense or the sentence.
- To be informed as soon as practicable of the sentence imposed on the defendant.
- To be given the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the appropriate agencies and departments to whom further requests for notice should be provided.
- To be given by the Attorney General’s Office or the District Attorney, information about the status of any appellate proceeding and any appellate decisions within five (5) business days after the status is known or the decision issued.
- To be told when the defendant is released if he or she is allowed to post bond after conviction, pending an appeal.
- To be notified of any escape and subsequent recapture of the defendant.
- To have any property belonging to you that was taken during the investigation returned as soon as possible. (If the property is necessary evidence, the prosecuting attorney may ask to be allowed to substitute photographs where possible.)
- To be notified within fifteen (15) days prior to the end of the sentence of the date the prisoner is to be released and to be notified of any medical release or of the death of the prisoner.
- To be notified that you may submit a written statement, audio or video recording to be placed with the prisoner’s records and considered at any review for community status of the prisoner or prior to release of the prisoner.
- To be notified and allowed to submit a written or recorded statement when any parole or pardon is to be considered.
- To testify at a criminal proceeding or participate in the preparation of the trial without any loss of employment, intimidation or threat or fear of the loss of employment.
These rights do not include the right to direct the prosecution. The district or county attorney has the responsibility to prosecute criminal cases. They will decide how the case will be handled, but they will confer with you and will consider your wishes and your needs. Additionally, the exercise of these rights is at your discretion. The absence of the victim at a proceeding will not prevent the court from going forward. The duty of the prosecutor is to make reasonable attempts to inform you. You must do your part by keeping the prosecutor informed of any change in your name, address or telephone number.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
CRIME VICTIMS’ BILL OF RIGHTS
REQUEST TO EXERCISE VICTIMS’ RIGHTS
FOR VICTIM TO SIGN:
I, _______________________________________, victim of the crime of _________________________, committed on _______________________, in _________________________________, request (date) (city, county)
that I be given all rights provided in the Victims’ Bill of Rights, Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 99-43-1 et. seq. I understand that it is my responsibility to provide the prosecutor with any change in my name, address or telephone number in order to continue to exercise these rights.
FOR VICTIM’S REPRESENTATIVE TO SIGN:
I, _______________________________, representative of ______________________________, who (victim representative) (victim) was the victim of the crime of __________________________committed on___________________, in (date)______________________ request that, on behalf of ________________________________, I be given (city, county) (victim) given all the rights provided in the Victims’ Bill of Rights, Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 99-43-1 et. seq. I understand that it is my responsibility to provide the prosecutor with any change in my name, address or telephone number in order to continue to exercise these rights.
ADDRESS (Street/P.O. Box)
(City) (State) (Zip)
Mail this form as follows:
IF THE CRIME WAS: Felony MAIL TO: District Attorney
IF THE CRIME WAS: Burglary of a Dwelling MAIL TO: District Attorney
IF THE CRIME WAS: Domestic Violence which occurred in the city limits MAIL TO: City Prosecuting Attorney
IF THE CRIME WAS: Domestic Violence which occurred in the county MAIL TO: County Prosecuting Attorney
PLEASE NOTE: Until your case has been turned over to the prosecuting attorney, you will need to call the investigating officer for an update on the status of your case.