Crime Victim’s Rights
The Texas constitution and the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure give crime victims certain rights, but many crime victims’ rights are only granted if the victim asks for them. As soon as the victim finds out about an arrest, the victim should let the prosecutor's office know that they would like to assert their rights.
- To be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy;
- To be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
- To get notice of court proceedings;
- To be present at the public court proceedings related to the offense;
- To confer with (talk to) the prosecutor; and
- To receive restitution; and
- To the protections afforded by Article 56.02 or the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Legal Process
- The process generally starts with the victim or a witness filing a police report.
- Following this initial report, often a detective will ask to meet with the victim to review the statement and write a follow-up report.
- When the victim is giving their statement they are asked to be as accurate as possible, so that the officers can gain the best information possible to assist in arresting the suspect.
- Although it may be difficult for the victim the officers need to know very specific details about the crime such as: date, location, description of suspect, and a detailed account of events to determine what charges should be made.
- The survivor has the right to read over everything the law enforcement officers write on forms and to ask them to correct any misinformation.
- If the police believe that enough evidence is present, they will send the case to the District Attorney’s Office.
- Felony Cases:
- After reviewing the case, the DA will present the case to the Grand Jury (all sexual assault cases are presented to the Grand Jury in Denton Co.).
- The Grand Jury will either vote “True Bill” and the offender will be indicted or “No Bill” and the case will be closed.
- If the Grand Jury votes “No Bill” the prosecution can re-present the case at a later date if new/more evidence is obtained.
- In most cases, only the prosecution and sometimes the police detective will be present at the Grand Jury. Usually, neither the defendant nor the victim will be at the hearing.
- If there is an indictment, the defendant can enter into a plea agreement or take the case to trial.
- Most defendants (especially sexual assault) enter a plea agreement – very few go to trial.
- Misdemeanor Cases:
- Most Relationship Violence cases are misdemeanors.
- The exception – when the defendant has had a previous guilty finding of family violence assault or the assault is aggravated, the DA may seek felony charges.
- Once the case has been received by the DA, the defendant can enter into a plea agreement or the case will go to trial.