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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Illinois Voters Turn Out to Support Crime Victims’ Rights

Posted on in Chicago criminal defense lawyer

crime victims& rightsThis year’s November election brought favorable news for crime victims’ rights. Among other important topics, such as voters’ rights, minimum wage reform, and education spending, came the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution to strengthen the preexisting Illinois Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights.

This new legislation is aimed to increase transparency and to provide access to information to crime victims about court proceedings, hearings, and sentencing. Among the rights granted by Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution include:

  • The right to be free from harassment, intimidation, or abuse throughout the criminal justice process;
  • The right to notice and a hearing before access to certain personal information can be given to attorneys about a victim of a crime;
  • The right to communicate with the prosecutor handling the case;
  • The right to speak at any time a decision regarding the victim is involved, or during post-arraignment release, plea, or sentencing decisions;
  • The right to be protected from the accused during the criminal process;
  • The right to be present at all court proceedings permitted by law; and
  • The right to timely notification of all such proceedings.

Notably, the new amendment adds an enforcement provision, stating that the victim has standing to assert these rights. Standing essentially means someone has a personal stake in the outcome and should be able to participate in the legal process.

What Does This Amendment Mean For Criminal Defendants?

The Illinois Constitution, as written before the amendment, guaranteed crime victims certain rights. These rights remain the same, although an enforcement provision has been added. In addition to an enforcement provision, the amendment provides victims an opportunity to be heard in certain court proceedings in which the rights of any victim is involved and when release, pleas, or sentencing is at issue.

While it seems few people are opposed to the idea of crime victims being given enforceable rights to participate in litigation that affects them, some are concerned about the effect this may have on court proceeding timelines. If crime victims choose to exercise their rights, some say there is a concern that it “may slow trial proceedings and interfere with the ability of the accused to gather information about the defense.” Importantly, none of the rights enumerated in the amendment affect the type of information or access a criminal defendant is entitled to by law. While it is possible that additional hearings may be required under the new law, a criminal defendant’s rights and protections have been left unharmed.

DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys

A defendant with a strong case and an experienced DuPage County criminal defense attorney should not be deterred from litigation because the victims may be more involved given the new constitutional amendment. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we are sensitive to how a criminal charge affects your life. We will work hard with prosecutors to ensure a favorable outcome while you can be assured all of the rights you enjoy under the law are being protected. Call us at 630-472-9700 and be confident that your rights will be protected and every effort will be made to have your case dismissed or charges reduced so you can move forward and put your past behind you.

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