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Victims' Bill of Rights

by r0stew03 last modified Nov 01, 2007 03:58 PM

CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS - As a victim or witness of crime, the following words are ones you may hear.
They appear in order similar to the steps in which a criminal case may be prosecuted.

COMPLAINT - A sworn statement that presented by police or citizen to a judge about a crime which has occurred.

ARREST WARRANT - It is issued by a judge who may issue a SUMMONS instead if he believes the accused will voluntarily appear in court.

INITIAL COURT APPEARANCE- The district court judge informs the accused of the charges and of his constitutional rights. A date is set for a PRELIMINARY HEARING.

BOND - The accused may remain in jail, be released on money or property bond, or released on PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE, if the judge believes the accused will voluntarily appear in court.

PRELIMINARY HEARING- Evidence is heard in district court to define if there is PROBABLE CAUSE to believe a crime was committed by the accused. If so, the case is referred to the GRAND JURY for FELONIES, or a trial date is scheduled for MISDEMEANORS. Witnesses may be SUBPOENAED to testify, that is, served a court order directing them to appear at a stated time and place.

The above steps may be bypassed by directly submitting a case to the GRAND JURY.

GRAND JURY - Twelve citizens hear evidence and vote whether or not to return an INDICTMENT. If not, the case may be resubmitted later or dismissed. Witnesses may be subpoenaed to testify.

ARRAIGNMENT - A formal hearing that is held in Circuit Court. The accused is read the INDICTMENT and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. When a plea of not guilty is entered, a trial date is set.

TRIAL - A jury of 12 citizens for Felonies, six for misde-meanors, hears the evidence in the case presented by the prosecutor and defense attorney. Subpoenas may be issued to witnesses.
In most criminal cases, several hearings may be held before trial to determine technical points of law. Witnesses' testimony may be required at some of these proceedings. At any time during the process, the defendant may ask for a change in the amount or conditions of bail. Many defen-dants remain out of jail until court. Persons convicted may remain free on appeal bond during the appellate process.

VERDICT - The jury determines the guilt or innocence of the defendant. A guilty verdict requires a unanimous vote. If the jury cannot agree on the verdict, a MISTRIAL is declared and the case may be tried before a different jury. If the jury votes not guilty, the defendant cannot be tried again for that offense.

PLEA BARGAIN - The attorneys may reach an agreement where the defendant pleads guilty and does not go to trial. This may be done anytime prior to or during trial.

SENTENCING - Upon conviction or a guilty plea, a sentencing hearing is held. The jury or judge sets the penalty or SENTENCE for the crime. The judge imposes the final sentence and may lessen the sentence recommended by the jury after reviewing a PRE-SENTENCE REPORT of the defendant's background. Victims may submit a "Victim Impact Statement" to the probation officer to include in the pre-sentence report.

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT - The victim has the right to submit a written statement detailing the impact the crime had on his or her life. This statement will be included with pre-sentence report prepared by the probation officer.

APPEAL - The defendant may ask a higher court to review the trial. The appellate court may affirm or reverse the conviction. If reversed, a new trial may be scheduled.

VICTIMS' RIGHTS - BEFORE THE PAROLE BOARD Crime victims may submit a "Victim Impact Statement" to the Parole Board for consideration prior to making a decision on the release of the offender. Victims of a crime classified as a class A, B. or C Felony have the right to attend and comment upon the parole hearing of the offender. For specific information about exercising these rights, contact:

Kentucky Parole Board Kentucky Corrections Cabinet State Office Building Frankfort, KY 40601


Rape examinations are free to victims and are paid for by the Office of the Attorney General. For more information contact the Rape Victims' Assistance Program at 502-564-2348 or your local rape crisis center.


A needy, innocent victim of crime who suffers financial loss may be reimbursed. Medical bills for physical and psychological injury can be paid. Loss of income or support may be reimbursed up to $150 per week. Funeral expenses can be paid up to $2,500. The maximum total award cannot exceed $25,000. To be eligible, a victim must report the crime within 48 hours, cooperate with law enforcement authorities, file the application usually within one year of the date of injury or death, and meet other conditions. If the victim is deceased, the next of kin or dependent may apply.

For further information contact:
Crime Victims Compensation Board 113 East Third Street Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 (502) 564 2290


Several kinds of services are available in many areas of Kentucky. Facilities and services may differ between areas and between programs.

  • Victim/Witness Programs, where they exist, are found in County and Commonwealth's Attorneys' offices. They may include orientation to court procedure, escort service, notification of case status, social service referrals, etc.
  • Rape centers may provide escort service to court or hospital, counseling, assistance with legal complaints, a 24-hour hotline and social service referrals.
  • Spouse abuse canters may provide emergency shelter, food, and financial assistance to the person and accompanying children, escort service to court, counseling. help with legal complaints and with protection of the victim.
  • Comprehensive care centers are mental health agencies that provide training programs, counseling for children, families, and individuals, for those with drug or alcohol problems, and residential programs for young people with drug or alcohol problems.
  • Legal services may be provided to low income persons and include representation in civil matters, counseling, courtroom orientation and social service referral.

Mark Murphy
Jefferson County Attorney
First Floor, Hall of Justice
Sixth and Jefferson Streets
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
(502) 574-6336

Jefferson County Crime Victims Advocacy
Program for Circuit Court
(502) 595-2340


Kentucky Crime Victims' Hotline

Child Abuse Hotline

Crime Victims Compensation Board

Kentucky Bar Association

Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
(502) 875-4132

Kentucky Parole Board
(502) 564-3620


Successful prosecution of criminals requires victims and witnesses to cooperate with their county and commonwealth's attorneys who represent the state in criminal cases. The county attorney handles cases in district court (misdemeanors) and juvenile court and is often responsible for the initial stages of felony cases. The commonwealth's attorney usually handles the grand jury and prosecutes felonies in circuit court. The defense attorney represent the accused.
The defendant's attorney or someone employed by the attorney may ask to interview you about the case.. You have the right to refuse. However, if you are subpoenaed to testify you must appear in court and comply.

Text on this page was taken from a pamplet entitled "The Victims' Bill of Rights" printed by the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

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To report an emergency, dial 852-6111 or 911.

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