Sweeny Police | Texas Crime Victims' Bill of Rights

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Texas Crime Victims' Bill of Rights

Crime Victimís Rights became a part of Texas law in 1985.  These rights are available to victims of adult offenders through language in Chapter 56 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  Similar but not exact rights are available to victims of juvenile offenders in Chapter 57 of the Texas Family Code.

In 1989, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment adding the victimís bill of rights to the state constitution, making Texas the seventh state in the country with a constitutional amendment affording rights to victims.

A victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim is entitled to the following rights within the criminal justice system:

TEXAS CRIME VICTIMSí BILL OF RIGHTS

THE RIGHT to receive from law enforcement agencies adequate protection from harm and threats of harm arising from cooperation with prosecution efforts;

THE RIGHT to have the magistrate take the safety of the victim or his family into consideration as an element in fixing the amount of bail for the accused;

THE RIGHT, if requested, to be informed of relevant court proceedings and to be informed if these court proceedings have been canceled or rescheduled prior to the event;

THE RIGHT to be informed, when requested, by a peace officer concerning the defendantís right to bail and the procedures in criminal investigations and by the district attorneyís office concerning the general procedures in the criminal justice system, including general procedures in guilty plea negotiations and arrangements, restitution, and the appeals and parole process;

THE RIGHT to provide pertinent information to a probation department conducting a pre-sentencing investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and his family by testimony, written statement, or any other manner prior to any sentencing of the offender;

THE RIGHT to receive information regarding compensation to victims of crime as provided by Subchapter B, Chapter 56, including information related to the costs that may be compensated under the Act and the amount of compensation, eligibility for compensation, and procedures for application for compensation under the Act, the payment for a medical examination under Article 56.06 of this code for a victim of a sexual assault, and when requested, to referral to available social services agencies that may offer additional assistance;

THE RIGHT to be informed, upon request, of parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to be notified, if requested, of parole proceedings concerning the defendant in the victimís case, to provide to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for inclusion in the defendantís file information to be considered by the board prior to the parole of any defendant convicted of any crime subject to this Act, and to be notified, if requested, of the defendantís release;

THE RIGHT to be provided with a waiting area, separate or secure from other witnesses, including the offender and relatives of the offender, before testifying in any proceeding concerning the offender; if a separate waiting area is not available, other safeguards should be taken to minimize the victimís contact with the offender and the offenderís relatives and witnesses, before and during court proceedings;

THE RIGHT to prompt return of any property of the victim that is held by a law enforcement agency or the attorney for the state as evidence when the property is no longer required for that purpose; and

THE RIGHT to have the attorney for the state notify the employer of the victim, if requested, of the necessity of the victimís cooperation and testimony in a proceeding that may necessitate the absence of the victim from work for good cause; and

THE RIGHT to counseling, on request, regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and testing for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, antibodies to HIV, or infection with other probable causative agent of AIDS if the offense in an offense under Section 21.11(a)(1), 22.011, or 22.021, Penal Code.

A victim is entitled to the right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, subject to the approval of the judge in the case;

The office of the attorney representing the state and the sheriff, police, and other law enforcement agencies shall ensure to the extent practicable that a victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim is afforded the right granted by Subsection (a) of this article and, on request, an explanation of those rights.

A judge, attorney for the state, peace officer, or law enforcement agency is not liable for a failure or inability to provide a right enumerated in this article. The failure or inability of any person to provide a right or service enumerated in this article may not be used by a defendant in a criminal case as a ground in a habeas corpus petition. A victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim does not have standing to participate as a party in a criminal proceeding or to contest the disposition of any charge.

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