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Balancing Criminal Victims' and Criminal Defendants' Rights (From Controversies in Victimology, Second Edition, P 1-19, 2008, Laura J. Moriarty, ed. -- See NCJ-225281)

NCJ Number
Gregory P. Orvis; John David Reitzel
Date Published
19 pages
This chapter presents arguments for and against balancing crime victims’ rights with defendants’ rights.
Proponents of victims’ rights argue that the scales of justice have been imbalanced in favor of defendants to the detriment of victims for too long. They argue that crime victims have repeatedly been revictimized by their treatment in the criminal justice system primarily because of the lack of formal legal standing that would enable them to redress the wrongs done to them by both the criminal justice system in the processing of defendants and convicted offenders and by the crime itself. Victim advocates argue that the scales of justice will never be balanced until there is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that specifies crime victims’ rights. Opponents of the victims’ rights movement and the proposed constitutional amendment, on the other hand, argue that the common law has already evolved to create a forum for protecting the rights of crime victims. That forum is the civil court, in which victims act as plaintiffs in seeking damages for the alleged harms done to them by specified defendants, who may or may not have been convicted in a criminal court. They further argue that attempts to enforce victims’ rights in the criminal justice system will not only undermine the due process rights of those accused of crimes, but will also tax the resources of the criminal justice system, which already suffers from scarce resources and costly delays. They further argue that the U.S. Constitution created the Bill of Rights, not for the majority, but for a minority who could be wrongfully accused of a crime with all of the powers of the State arrayed against them. 79 references