Rights of Crime Victims
For statutory crime victim rights, a “victim” is defined as a person who suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of a criminal offense or delinquent act. A simple misdemeanor is not an included crime for the purpose of statutory victim rights. For these rights, “Victim” also includes the immediate family members of a homicide victim, a crime victim who is judged to be incompetent, or a crime victim who is under the age of 18.
THE RIGHT TO A VICTIM ADVOCATE
- Iowa Code section §915.20 establishes a victim’s right to request and have a victim counselor or advocate present at any legal or evidentiary medical proceeding related to the offense.
- A crime victim, law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or medical provider can locate a victim counselor or advocate by contacting a local victim service program, the County Attorney’s Office, or the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division.
- The Attorney General’s Crime Victim Compensation Program pays certain out of pocket expenses an eligible victim has as a result of injury or death from crime.
- Funds for this program come entirely from fines and penalties paid by offenders.
THE RIGHT TO NOTIFICATION
- Crime victims, other than a victim of a simple misdemeanor, have the right to register in writing with the County Attorney’s Office for written notification about the status of the criminal case.
- Law enforcement is required to tell a crime victim their right to register with the County Attorney’s Office and provide the victim with a “request for registration” form.
- A crime victim must complete and submit the “request for registration form” to the County Attorney who is prosecuting the case in order to receive criminal justice system statutory notification.
- The county attorney will forward copies of “request for registration” form to other justice system agencies including the Sheriff, Clerk of Court, Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Division, Department of Corrections, and the Board of Parole.
- Justice system agencies will provide written notification to a registered crime victim regarding the status of the criminal case and a convicted offender.
- All crime victims and the public may register with IowaVINE for automated notification about an offender incarcerated in a county jail or the Iowa Department of Corrections. IowaVINE will send notification by text, email, or telephone and has live operators 24/7/365.
- Petitioners on Protective or No Contact Orders may register with IPONDA to receive notification when the order is served and before it expires.
- At sentencing, a judge will order the convicted offender to pay the crime victim restitution for crime related expenses.
- The crime victim submits a record of their out of pocket expenses related to the crime to the County Attorney who will submit the information to the Judge. The Judge will order restitution paid to the crime victim.
- A Judge must order an offender to pay $150,000 to the estate of a victim who dies as a result of a crime in addition to the restitution ordered for the victims for out of pocket expenses.
- A crime victim has the right to submit a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) to the Judge at the sentencing of the convicted offender.
- The VIS is a victim’s opportunity to tell the Judge and the offender about the physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial effects of the crime on them and their family.
- A crime victim may seek assistance from a victim counselor or advocate in preparing the VIS.
- The offender must be present for the VIS.
- The VIS may be given to the Judge and the offender by the crime victim or by the victim’s chosen representative.
- The VIS may be stated orally or in writing.
- When presenting the VIS, a crime victim or their representative cannot be questioned by the offender or the defense attorney.
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