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Rights of a Crime Victim, or Victim's Representative
When a Crime has Been Committed Against You
A victim is someone who suffers actual or threatened physical, emotional, or financial harm as a direct result of a crime or delinquent act. A victim's representative is a close relative or legal guardian who represents a victim who has died, is disabled, or is a child. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim Pro. §11-104(a); MD Code, Crim Pro. §11-103(d)
If you are a victim, under Maryland law:
- Police must inform you of your basic rights as a victim. The police or sheriff’s deputies usually notify victims of their basic rights by giving them a copy of the pamphlet, “Maryland Crime Victims and Witnesses: Your Rights and Services.” Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §11-914(9)(i).
- The District Court must inform you of your rights as a victim. If you complain about your injury to a District Court Commissioner instead of contacting the police, the Commissioner must give you a copy of the pamphlet, “Maryland Crime Victims and Witnesses: Your Rights and Services.” Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. Code Ann. §11-104(b).
- The Maryland Constitution, Declaration of Rights states that you have the right to be notified of, to attend, and to be heard regarding victim issues at public criminal justice proceedings. Read the Law: Article 47 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights
Rights of Sexual Assault Victims
- Police must offer transportation - If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, the police must offer to transport you immediately to a hospital or other facility approved by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for treatment.Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro. §11-924(b)(1)
- Free medical help - If you go to a hospital or other facility, the physician and hospital cannot charge you for an examination, gathering information and evidence about the assault, giving you emergency treatment or providing follow-up medical testing for up to 90 days after the initial examination. But if you receive any other medical treatment, the hospital and physician may charge you or your insurance company.Read the Regulation: COMAR 10.12.02.05
- HIV testing of the offender - If you are worried that the assault may have exposed you to the HIV virus, you should talk to the State’s Attorney and/or your local sexual assault counselor for guidance. You have the right to file a written request to have the State’s Attorney ask the court to order that the person who assaulted you be tested for HIV. If the court orders the test, you will be notified of the results and be given counseling. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §11-113
In the Court System
Maryland courts must ensure that victims receive all rights provided to them by law. If a court finds that a victim’s right was not considered or was denied, the court may grant relief to the victim so long as the remedy does not violate a criminal defendant’s or child respondent’s constitutional right to be free from double jeopardy. The court is not permitted to provide a remedy that modifies a sentence of incarceration of a defendant or commitment of a child respondent unless the victim requests relief from a violation of the victim’s right within 30 days of the alleged violation.
Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §11-103(e)
Under Maryland law, a victim of a crime or delinquent act (or a representative in the event the victim is deceased, disabled, or a minor) has a broad range of specific rights during the criminal justice process. Below is a list of some of those rights:
Right to Notice of Indictment - The State’s Attorney’s Office must notify you within 10 days of filing or unsealing an indictment or information charging the person who abused you. This notice is given by giving you a copy of the pamphlet, "Your Rights as a Victim in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Process" ("Sus Derechos como Víctima en el Proceso de Justicia Penal y Juvenil").Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. Code §11-914(9)(ii).
Right to request notification of Court proceedings - The State’s Attorney’s Office will also give you a copy of the Victim Notification Request Form that you can file with the prosecuting attorney if you want to be notified before:
- Each court proceeding in the case.
- All proceedings after a conviction, adjudication and sentencing or disposition.
- Any request for a hearing to modify or vacate the sentence of the convicted person.
- All appeals to the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals.
- Any parole plan, agreement, initial parole release hearing, or parole revocation hearing.
Note: If it is not practical to notify you in advance, but you have filed a Victim Notification Request, the prosecutor will tell you as soon as possible after: any change in the defendant's release status, or any plea agreement, judicial action or court proceeding that affects your interests, if you were not present in court. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §§11-104, 11-503, 11-505.
- Right to have a private attorney enter an appearance to represent you or your representative. Organizations such as the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center can provide an attorney or help you locate an attorney. Read the Rule: MD Rule 1-326.
- Right to know the terms of any plea agreement. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim Pro. §11-104(c)(ii)(e)(1).
Right to submit a victim impact statement to the court in a hearing to determine whether a case should be transferred into or out of juvenile court. The court is legally required to consider your statement in deciding whether to transfer the case. Read the Law: MD Cts. and Jud. Pro. §3-8A-06(c)(2)(i), §4-202(i)(2)(iii).
Right to be present, to make a statement, and/or request an order of protection, at pretrial release, bail or sentence review hearings. Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro. Code Ann. §8-106(b)(2), MD Code Ann., Crim. Pro. §5-201
- Right to seek restitution. Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro. Code Ann. §11-603
- Right to appeal – you have the right to file an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from an interlocutory order and have the right to a direct appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from a final order denying you specific victim's rights. Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro. Code Ann. §11-103
Financial Compensation Options for Crime Victims
- Victim Emergency Funds
- Private Insurance
- Civil Lawsuit
- Criminal Inquires Compensation Board
- More on these options from the MD Crime Victims Resource Center.
Restitution means that the person who committed the crime must repay the victim, the state government, an insurance company or another person that has compensated the victim for injuries, loss or damage. Payment of restitution to a victim has priority over any payments to any other person or governmental unit. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §§11-603(a), 11-606(a), 11-617
There are different ways you may be compensated for your losses.
- You may receive compensation from the state - The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which is part of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, may compensate victims of crime who suffer physical injuries for their medical expenses and loss of earnings, up to $45,000. In cases of homicide, the Board may pay funeral expenses and loss of support to a surviving spouse or child or to another person dependent on a homicide victim for his/her principal support.
- You may receive compensation from the offender - You may seek restitution from the person who committed the crime. To do this, you or the State’s Attorney must ask the court to order restitution. The court may order it if you have proof of expenses that you suffered as a result of the crime. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim. Pro. §11-603(b).
- If your request for restitution is not considered or is improperly denied, the law grants you the right to file a motion for reconsideration within 30 days of the denial or alleged failure to consider. If the court finds that your right to restitution was not considered or was improperly denied, the court may enter a judgment of restitution. Read the Law: MD Crim. Pro. Code Ann. §11-103(4)
Mental Health Commitment and Release
You have a right to be notified about the mental health commitment and release of an offender. If you have filed a Victim Notification Request, the State’s Attorney will notify you when one of the following happens.Read the Law: MD Code, Crim.Pro. §3-123
- Mental Health Commitment - The Health Department receives a court order to examine or commit a defendant.
- A hearing is scheduled or the Health Department is notified that the person accused of the crime has applied for a hearing or filed a petition for release.
- The person accused of the crime is recommended for release.
- Released - A facility that has charge of the person accused of the crime notifies the State’s Attorney that the person is absent without authorization, or the court orders the person released.
If the Crime is Committed by a Juvenile
- Most of the rights available to a victim of a crime in which the offender is an adult are also available to a victim of a delinquent act by a child (juvenile).
- Who is a Juvenile? In general, a child or juvenile means a person under the age of 18.Read the Law: MD Code, Cts. and Jud. Pro. §3-8A-01.
- When tried as adults - Children who have committed some crimes will be tried as adults in Circuit Court rather than in juvenile court.
- If the person who committed the violent crime is a juvenile, and the case is one that could only be tried in Circuit Court if the crime had been committed by an adult, the State’s Attorney must notify you of your right to seek restitution (compensation for injuries, loss or damage) and provide you a copy of the Victim Notification Request Form. Read the Law: MD Code, Crim Pro. §11-104(c)(2)(i-ii).
Source:Edits by the Maryland Crime Victims' Resources Center with updates by Jessica Nhem and Rene LaVigne
Is this legal advice?
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”