Criminal Procedure: The Victims

     In the criminal courts system, victims can initiate collateral proceedings against the perpetrator of the crime. There are three different types of collateral proceedings:

Compensation- victims can appeal to the court for compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the actions of the perpetrator.Assistance- the victim or family can ask for assistance in order to obtain psychological or medical treatment for the after-effects of the crime.Restitution- these are monies paid to the victim or family of the victim in order to compensate for the crime. These monies can be garnished from any source of the perpetrator’s income.In addition to the collateral proceedings, victims have certain rights under the law. The Prosecutor is allowed to stay in touch with the victim and family during all stages of the prosecution. After the trial, the prosecutor may continue to keep in touch in order to inform victim and family of parole hearings, applications for pardons or other changes in the status of the perpetrator. The victim and family may also request to receive any royalties derived from publicity, interviews, books or movies made by the perpetrator.

    Victim compensation programs are a significant benefit to the victims and their families, but do not act as a deterrent to criminal activity. The compensation programs are mainly funded by government or non-profit groups and are kept separate from the perpetrator. Criminals who are not required to compensate the victim personally will not be deterred from committing future crimes. Victim impact statements can be very effective tools for the victim and their families. It enables them to have a voice regarding the crime, its effects and a comparable sentence for the perpetrator. It allows victims and their families to retain power in determining the outcome.


Fletcher, G. R. (1996). With Justice for Some: Protecting Victims’ Rights in Criminal Trials. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

Meiners, R. E. (1978). Victim Compensation: Economic, Legal, and Political Aspects. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Murphy, J. G. (2003). Getting Even:  Forgiveness and Its Limits. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stark, J. H., & Goldstein, H. W. (1985). The Rights of Crime Victims. Toronto: Bantam Books.