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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office for Victims of Crime
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Message From the Director

Over the past three decades, the criminal justice field has witnessed an astounding proliferation of statutory enhancements benefiting people who are most directly and intimately affected by crime.To date, all states have passed some form of legislation to benefit victims. In addition, 32 states have recognized the supreme importance of fundamental and express rights for crime victims by raising those protections to the constitutional level.

Of course, the nature, scope, and enforcement of victims’ rights vary from state to state, and it is a complex and often frustrating matter for victims to determine what those rights mean for them.To help victims, victim advocates, and victim service providers understand the relevance of the myriad laws and constitutional guarantees, the Office for Victims of Crime awarded funding to the National Center for Victims of Crime to produce a series of bulletins addressing salient legal issues affecting crime victims.

The Crime Victim’s Right To Be Present, the third in the series, provides an overview of state laws addressing the rights of victims to attend criminal justice proceedings, particularly trials, and how their presence might affect the rights of defendants.This bulletin and the others in the Legal Series highlight various circumstances in which relevant laws are applied, emphasizing their successful implementation.

We hope that victims, victim advocates, victim service providers, criminal justice professionals, and policymakers in states across the Nation will find the bulletins in this series helpful in making sense of the criminal justice process and in identifying areas in which rights could be strengthened or more clearly defined.We encourage you to use these bulletins not simply as informational resources but as tools to support victims in their involvement with the criminal justice system.

John W. Gillis, Director

Important Update

Since the publication of this bulletin, the milestone Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) has significantly expanded the rights of federal victims to participate in the criminal justice process. Check OVC's special CVRA Web page for more information.

The Crime Victim's Right To Be Present

Important Update!
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About This Series

OVC Legal Series bulletins are designed to inform victim advocates and victim service providers about various legal issues relating to crime victims.The series is not meant to provide an exhaustive legal analysis of the topics presented; rather, it provides a digest of issues for professionals who work with victims of crime.

Each bulletin summarizes-

  • Existing legislation.

  • Important court decisions in cases where courts have addressed the issues.

  • Current trends or "hot topics" relating to each legal issue.

The OVC Legal Series bulletins were created by the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) under grant number 1999–VF–GX–K007 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this bulletin are those of the author/NCVC and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

January 2002

NCJ 189187

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NCJ 189187 (Bulletin) Order

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