Every state has a victim’s rights statute, or a state constitutional provision that provides crime victims with certain rights, or both. Prosecutors, law enforcement, and other public agencies must comply with these laws as part of the criminal justice process. Victims in every state have the following basic rights:
A person arrested for a domestic dispute but never charged, a prisoner convicted of rape but released thanks to exonerating DNA evidence, and a robbery defendant acquitted after trial all have one thing in common: factual innocence. Factual innocence may prevent a criminal charge in the first instance and may, at times, exonerate a person previously found guilty.
Self defense or defense of another often comes up when violence erupts between two people. For example, suppose a person is charged with assault or battery but the other party struck the first blow, was attacking someone else, or made frightening and credible threats.
A criminal record, sometimes called a rap sheet, is a collection of a person’s criminal convictions and arrests. The information in the record varies from state to state and even from county to county.
Within the criminal justice jungle, a defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government; and private attorneys paid by the defendant.