Source: http://www.instantriverside.com

We hear constantly that defendants have had their rights violated. These defendants may be the accused or the guilty. Even criminals who have admitted that they are guilty of committing crimes get coddled. But why are the victim’s rights never considered?

There is a serious problem with our legal system. The government has its own representatives — the prosecutors. The government provides the accused with representatives — public defenders. The government, however, does not provide any representatives for the victims of crimes.

Underhanded tactics used by some defense attorneys and their clients undermine our legal system if victims are not protected. In some situations, threats and acts of violence are used against victims in order to prevent them from testifying. Defense attorneys may also suggest plea bargains so that the victim does not have to testify. Mothers may not want victimized children to have to testify in front of a child molester, so they may take the deal. A victims’ rights attorney could show more initiative than the overworked prosecutors and request an out-of-court statement by the child to be prepared. Another preventable legal maneuver would be a plea bargain from the early 2000s, when a sadistic killer requested 20 years instead of 25 to life in return for showing the family where the remains of their daughter were.

A more common scenario that would benefit from the presence of a victims’ rights attorney is a rape prosecution. There is not a blanket rape shield law, so a special attorney for the rape victim is an important supplement to a rape trial. For those who don’t know, a rape shield law is one that prevents defense attorneys from asking a rape victim about her past sexual experiences. Some courts, however, are more lenient than others. A victims’ rights attorney could help combat this. Though there are non-profit groups like The Rape Survivor’s Law Project, they are not numerous enough to help every victim.

It gets worse. Up until this point, some of the responsibilities of victims’ rights attorneys have also fallen under the job description of prosecutors. However, defending a suit or countersuit by a defendant found not guilty, by either a jury or on appeal, is a duty not given to prosecutors. A government appointed victims’ rights attorney would be extremely useful in this situation. In Georgia, back in 2006, a judge allowed an accused rapist — who was found not guilty — to sue his accuser, claiming emotional distress because he was sent to jail and labeled a rapist. If this is allowed, and attorneys are not provided to victims for free, poor victims will cease to report violent crimes because they fear legal retribution in civil court.

If the government hired victims’ rights attorneys, fewer criminals would go free or be able to coax unfair plea bargains. Defense attorneys would have a harder time taking advantage of a victim’s situation. That would be a good start in repairing our broken justice system, because criminals should never be provided with more rights than victims.



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