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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Know Your Rights

Unlike defendant’s rights, which nearly everyone in the country can easily recite, very few people know what rights victims have. We are committed to changing this! Below, you will find Quicktools - a series of short videos about victims’ rights and how to protect those rights. As Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated “An essential element in protecting human rights [is] a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended.” From knowing which rights exist to learning how to exercise them, protecting victims’ rights starts here with our Quicktools!  

To read a history of victims’ rights, visit our Victim Law Library, or click here.



These Quicktools provide a general overview of victims’ rights. The rights in each state and the federal system are incredibly unique and the Quicktools do not attempt to cover these differences. If a Quicktool is covering a specific right in a specific jurisdiction it will make that clear by mentioning the law and providing the citation. We hope you find these videos insightful and enjoyable.



Elements of Justice (6:25)

This Quicktool provides an overview of the rights and principles that ensure that justice systems are fair, provide meaningful participation for victims, and include resources and avenues for victim recovery.

The Right to Be Heard  (3:53)

The right to be heard is intended to ensure victims can be active participants in the criminal justice system. This Quicktool provides a discussion of a victim’s right to be heard in criminal courts at release, plea, sentencing, parole and at any proceeding impacting a victim’s right. 

The Right to Be Present (4:21)

The right to be present gives the victim the authority to decide if he/she wants to be in the courtroom during the criminal proceedings.  This Quicktool explains a victim’s right to be present at trial, pretrial hearings, post-conviction sentencing, and even probation and parole hearings.

The Right to Notice (2:39)

The right to notice is the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.  This Quicktool provides a discussion of a victim’s right to notice, and defines  meaningful notice.

The Right to Privacy (6:51)

The right to privacy refers to protections involving access to the victims’ personal information.  Control over the release of personal information protects victims from being re-victimized during criminal proceedings.  This Quicktool provides a discussion of a victim’s right to privacy and how this right is rooted in the federal constitution and state constitutions.

The Right to Protection (3:21)

The right to protection relates to the victim’s right to be reasonably protected from the accused during and after the criminal justice process.  It is generally reflected in constitutional and statutory provisions that address issues of the victim’s physical safety and mental and emotional health.  This Quicktool provides a discussion of a victim’s right to protection and how victims may request protection and receive notification of release.

Exercising Rights:

Recouping Financial Losses (5:30)

Victims often incur financial losses in the aftermath of crime and these losses can be significant. This Quicktool provides a discussion of the three common options to help offset the financial burdens of crime: Restitution, Victim Compensation, and Civil Suits. 

Trafficking and Victims’ Rights (5:06)

This Quicktool provides a discussion of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, The Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and State-Specific Protections for trafficking victims.  Polyvictimization, or the exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, abuse or neglect is also presented.

Victims Can File Papers (3:30)

Motions or pleadings can be filed by victims to assert their rights by filing papers in a criminal case.  This Quicktool explains common misperceptions and exceptions, and the possible benefits to victims by filing papers.

Victims Can Have Attorneys (4:33)

This Quicktool explains what a victims’ rights attorney is and how they can help victims navigate the criminal justice system.  

Victims’ Rights & Defendants’ Rights Co-Existing (5:07)

This Quicktool explains how victims’ rights and the rights of the defendant co-exist with no conflict.

Victims’ Rights Post-Sentencing (3:55)

This Quicktool explains how a victims’ rights can still apply after a defendant is convicted, end and that victims may continue to have important interests in after-sentencing proceedings.

What is Polyvictimization? (4:04)

This Quicktool explains polyvictimization, or the exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, abuse or neglect and why it is important for attorneys and advocates to understand how this impacts victims and their rights.


This webpage and its contents funded in part by 2012-VF-GX-KO13, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this webpage and in its resources are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Further, neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).