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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Enforcing Victim Rights in Indiana

As a victim of a crime you are entitled to numerous rights under the Indiana Constitution as well as pursuant to Indiana Code.

Article 1, § 13(b) of the Indiana Constitution reads as follows:

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, as defined by law, to be informed of and present during public hearings and to confer with the prosecution, to the extent that exercising these rights does not infringe upon the constitutional rights of the accused.

Additionally, Ind. Code § 35-40-1 et seq. provides victims standing to assert their rights, including the right to be heard at sentencing, notice of when the pre-trial detainee or convict is released from a mental institution or Indiana Department of Correction facility.

Unfortunately, while the victim has standing to assert their rights, they have no statutory authorization to seek damages against the judge, prosecutor, or other victim’s advocate, or to seek a new trial of one already convicted, if the victim’s rights are denied. Numerous states do allow for victims to seek damages if their rights as a victim are denied, and Indiana should follow suit, but what can you do in the meantime (which may be awhile)?

Action or Motion in Mandate or to Enforce. The main mechanism is to file a lawsuit or motion to force the judge, prosecutor, or victim’s advocate to abide by Article 1, § 13(b) of the Indiana Constitution or certain provisions of Ind. Code § 35-40-1 et seq. Obviously, a lawsuit should be the last resort. You would generally want to make an formal request for the relief. While damages cannot be obtained, somewhat persuasive authority in Illinois suggests that the victim should not have to incur costs (e.g. filing fee, and maybe attorney’s fees) for filing a motion or bringing an action. See Myers v. Daley, 521 N.E.2d 98 (Ill. App. Ct. 1987).

If you are a victim of a crime and you believe your rights as a victim are being violated, please call Beeman Law attorney Alex Beeman as soon as possible. As discussed above, waiting could be detrimental in exercising your rights to be heard or otherwise as a victim.

Please note: As a victim, you generally have a tort or statutory claim against the “criminal” as authorized by Indiana state law as well as Indiana’s Crime Victim Statute which allows one to sue for damages arising out of certain crimes.

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