Virginia’s Victims Bill of Rights
Under Virginia’s Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act, you are entitled to certain rights and privileges during the criminal prosecution process. Below is a summary of those rights. More detailed information is outlined in this Summary prepared by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The Charlottesville Victim/Witness Assistance Program can also help you understand your options and rights under the criminal justice system.
Right to Be Informed
- Law enforcement agencies are required to provide you with written information about your rights
- You should be given names, addresses and telephone numbers for the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the investigating law enforcement agency
- You can request that courts, police departments, commonwealth’s attorneys, defense attorneys and the Department of Corrections not disclose your home address, telephone number or place of employment.
- The Commonwealth attorney should explain to you what information may be kept confidential in your case.
- Law enforcement agencies may not disclose information which directly identifies victims of sexual assault.
- Victims of sexual assault may request that any Court of Appeals or Virginia Supreme court decisions not contain their names.
- You have the right to receive information about petitioning for a protective order
- You have the right to receive information about options for court ordered restitution from the defendant
- If you were injured during the crime, you can apply for compensation for losses, such as medical or counseling expenses, through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
- You have the right to file civil legal action against a defendant at any time to seek damages.
Notice of Court-Dates and Other Court-Related Assistance
- You have the right to be notified in advance of all scheduled court dates, including:
- Preliminary hearings
- Plea agreement hearings
- Sentencing hearings
- You have the right to receive notification about defendant or prisoner status
- You have the right to appear in court without penalty from your employer. The commonwealth attorney can notify your employer that the law protects your absence from work.
- You may have a separate waiting area available to you to be separated from defendant or witnesses for the defense.
- You have the right to remain in the courtroom during all court proceedings that the defendant attends.
- If you are a victim of sexual assault, you have the right to request that the preliminary hearing be closed to the public.
- You have the right to request that the Commonwealth’s Attorney consult with you regarding the contents of a proposed plea deal
- You may have the opportunity to submit a victim impact statement for the judge’s consideration, or to testify at the sentencing hearing.
Post-Trial Assistance and Other Notices
- You have the right to be notified if the defendant is released on bail pending an appeal
- You have the right to be notified if the defendant files a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Virginia