Are you facing criminal charges for kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, manslaughter or murder? If you are accused of committing a violent or sexually-motivated crime, you may be wondering if the victims can play a role in the criminal process. If they can impact the outcome of your case, such as the sentencing and penalties.
Like other states, crime victims in Texas have a number of rights and yes, at times the victims of a crime can influence the prosecution, magistrate, or jury. In Texas, victims’ rights can be found in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure arts. 56.01-56.021.
Article 56.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a victim is a “person who is the victim of the offense of sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, trafficking of persons, or injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled person or who has suffered personal injury or death as a result of the criminal conduct of another.”
What Rights do Crime Victims Have?
Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some of the rights given to crime victims in Texas:
- The right to be protected by law enforcement when participating in a criminal prosecution.
- The right for the magistrate to consider the safety of the victim and their family when setting a bail amount for the defendant.
- Upon request, the right to be informed by the prosecution about all court proceedings, including any appellate proceedings, and to be informed ahead of time if any such proceedings are cancelled or rescheduled.
- Upon request, the right to be informed by the District Attorney’s Office about the criminal investigation and the criminal procedures being utilized.
- Upon request, the right to be informed about parole and to participate in parole proceedings, and to be notified about the defendant’s release from custody.
- The right to be informed about victim impact statements and their purpose, and to complete a victim impact statement and have it considered.
With the judge’s approval, a victim, their guardian, or a close family member of a deceased victim are entitled to be present at all public court proceedings associated with the offense.