Victim representation is a legal method to assist a victim, a person who has experienced direct or threatened physical, emotional, or financial harm from the commission of a crime. Not only does the Missouri Constitution explicitly mention the victim’s rights, but the state also includes:
- Various statutes indicating what rights the victim has to be informed of the criminal case
- How they might communicate with the judge presiding over the case
- What input they might have for the case
- Their right to be represented
In fact, some counties have specific victim’s advocacy offices for this very issue of victim representation.
About victim representation
In Missouri, homicide victims may be represented after their death. However, in other cases not involving homicide, family members or other individuals are sometimes allowed to represent the victim who is incapable of adequately representing themselves. In other cases, victim representation can occur by hiring an attorney to advocate on their behalf.
A person affected by the commission of a crime is entitled to hire a private attorney to advocate and represent their interests. Hiring a representative ensures notice on developing case matters, inclusion into the case and that the case does not advance without being informed.
Why victim representation is needed
Victim representation is necessary due to the resulting physical and psychological trauma experienced by the person from the crime committed. The primary injuries suffered can usually be categorized by being physical, financial, or emotional. Victim representation is sometimes necessary to interact with the criminal justice system.
In an odd inversion, in a criminal case, the crime is considered to have been committed against the state. In these situations, even though the crime was committed against another person, that victim then becomes a witness to the crime.
These situations are very difficult for the person to experience, since no matter the form of pain, becomes secondary to the state’s interest in prosecuting the criminal. As a result, victim representation can seemingly help a person regain control over the entire situation.
How victim representation can help
Missouri law provides certain rights to crime victims, including participation in the criminal justice system. Similarly, regardless of the criminal case, victims can also file civil claims against the offenders and other responsible parties such as businesses or schools that might have been negligent in their duties.
In contrast to the criminal justice system, civil courts do not determine the offender’s guilt or innocence, with no possibility of jail time. Instead, civil courts determine whether the offender or another third party is liable for the victim’s injuries which resulted from the crime. When defendants are determined civilly liable for the crime committed, courts can order them to compensate the victims monetarily.
For example, sexual abuse plaintiff attorneys can represent sexual abuse victims or their parents, in a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. By bringing a civil claim against the sexual offender, monetary compensation for the harm suffered can be obtained, which can help the victim feel that justice was served.
Call (417) 865-2181 to schedule a consultation with Dean Price Law in our Springfield office.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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