As a victim, you have at all times the right to justice, dignity, and respect. You also have a right to fair and impartial treatment, and the right to play a meaningful role in the criminal justice process.
It is important to know that as a victim, you are not the person driving a criminal case. That is done by the District Attorney. Once the district attorney takes charge of your case, you cannot drop the case simply by deciding to drop it. Only the DA can do that. Furthermore, if the DA so desires, they can drop or reduce the charges against the defendant even if that isn’t what you want. The best way to ensure that your rights and roles in the justice system are realized is to hire an attorney. If you are the victim of a domestic violence case, you will often be assigned a court-appointed advocate who can help you navigate the legal minefield.
In Oregon all victims have the following rights:
- the right to be reasonably protected from the defendant or convicted criminal throughout the criminal justice process
- the right to be informed in advance of any critical stage of the proceedings when the defendant will be present and the right to be present at any such stage of the proceedings.
- the right (if you are 15 years or older) to be accompanied by a personal representative to phases of the investigation and prosecution of the crime except for grand jury proceedings and certain child abuse assessments.
- the right to have addresses and phone numbers withheld from the defendant upon request unless good cause is otherwise shown. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking may have substitute addresses designated when disclosure of addresses may threaten the safety of the victim or the victim’s child.
- The right to have a copy of any transcript, audiotape or videotape of any court proceeding in open court
- The right to be informed of the status of the defendant in the criminal justice system including (1) the conviction and sentence of the defendant; (2) the criminal history of the defendant; (3) imprisonment of the defendant; and (4) the defendant’s future release from physical custody.
- The right to compensation for qualifying assessments. For example, victims of sexual assault may have the cost of sexual assault exams compensated.
- The right to have any defendants, in cases where there was transmission of bodily fluids, tested for HIV, which under certain circumstances, the court must order. If any such HIV test is positive, a victim has the right to be provided with counseling and referral for appropriate health care, testing and support services.