What are Victims Rights?

Victims Rights, Generally

In the state of California, victims have a number of rights throughout the criminal justice process. These rights have been included in the California Constitution through the Victims’ Bill of Rights Acts of 1982 and 2008. This Victims’ Bill of Rights, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law, has given victims more consideration and opportunity to be involved in the pre-trial, trial and post-conviction processes related to the offense and the offender.

Who Can Enforce Marsy’s Law Rights?

A victim, the legal representative of the victim, a retained attorney, or a prosecuting attorney upon request, may enforce the rights enumerated in the California Constitution Article I Section 28(b). These rights are enforceable in any trial or appellate court with jurisdiction over the case.

How to Assert Marsy’s Law Rights?

Some of the Marsy’s Law rights are self-executing, and some of the rights require that the victim notify the court that they are asserting them.

Self-Executing Rights that attach to every victim regardless of a specific request:

  • Right to be treated fairly
  • Right to be protected from the defendant
  • Right to have the safety of the victim considered in setting conditions of release
  • Right to a speedy trial and prompt conclusion of the case
  • Right to have the safety of the victim considered in parole decisions
  • Right to be informed of the rights of the victim

Rights that must or should be affirmatively asserted:

  • Right to notice of the defendant’s arrest and reasonable opporunity to confer with the prosecutor
  • Right to reasonable notice of proceedings and to be present
  • Right to be heard at certain proceedings
  • Right to receive a copy of the probation report
  • Right to notice of conviction and the time and place of sentencing
  • Right to prevent disclosure of confidential information
  • Right to refuse an interview by the defendant
  • Right to provide information to a probation officer
  • Right to restitution
  • Right to the prompt return of property
  • Right to participate in the parole process

More Information About These Rights

In the tabs to the right, we have provided further explanation about some of these rights of victims, as well as valuable resources that a victim can look to in helping them understand these rights and general information about what the process for asserting them may entail.

However, this information and the resources should be used primarily for informational purposes. For many of these rights, it is a good idea to receive the help of an attorney or experienced victims advocate when trying to assert them. Many require that a victim exercise these rights by first filing a form, or various forms, with the courts or other agencies in the state. If you would like more information about how to come in contact with either an attorney who specializes in victims’ right or a victims advocate, please call our hotline number at 1-800-VICTIMS(842-8467).

The California Court Legal Self-Help website also has more information about how a victim or the loved one of a victim may assert this right.