Law enforcement officials, Commonwealth Attorneys and County Attorneys have long recognized the need for laws to protect victims. In 1998, they worked with the General Assembly in developing the Kentucky's Victims' Bill of Rights, which was designed to help victims who have suffered direct or threatened physical, financial or emotional harm from crimes such as stalking, unlawful imprisonment, use of a minor in a sexual performance, terroristic threatening, menacing, harassing communications, intimidating a witness, homicide, robbery, rape, assault, sodomy, kidnapping, burglary, sexual abuse, wanton endangerment and criminal abuse.
The Victims’ Bill of Rights enumerates several provisions for the benefit of victims including among others:
ü Information on available protective, emergency, social and medical services;
ü Information about the availability of crime victim compensation when applicable, community based treatment programs and the judicial process;
ü Notification of when the accused is arrested;
ü Notification of important occurrences in their case and prompt updates as to scheduling changes that affect a victim’s appearance when required to testify as a witness;
ü Information on how to register for notifications from the Commonwealth when a person has been released from a prison, jail, or psychiatric facility;
ü Consultation by the prosecutor on the disposition of the case, including negotiated plea agreements;
ü Prompt return of property held as evidence by the Commonwealth;
ü Assistance in informing employers when prosecution necessitates the victim’s absence from work.
County Attorneys and Commonwealth Attorneys in most counties have employees known as Victims Rights Advocates who have the primary responsibility to work with and help crime victims in District and Circuit Court. If you are a victim of a crime, you can and should work closely with the Victims Rights Advocate to ensure you get the help you need.
If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 859-491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney