know your rights
As a crime victim, you have rights to information, notification, and consultation, as well as access to someone who can help you understand your rights.
what are my rights?
Victims of violent crimes have rights that are protected by the law. Read about your right to information, notification, and consultation.
Who can help me?
Get connected with a victim’s advocate who can support you through the justice and grieving process.
What Resources are available?
Find links to state and national resources for victims to navigate the justice system, get support, grieve, and move forward after homicide.
You Have a Right to Information.
You have the right to receive available information regarding…
- Protective, emergency, social, and medical services.
- Obtaining assistance from a victim advocate.
- Community-based treatment programs.
- Restitution and crime victim compensation.
- Registration and notification of when a person has been released from a prison, jail, juvenile detention facility, psychiatric facility or under limited circumstances, a forensic psychiatric facility.
- How to be protected from intimidation, harassment, or retaliation.
- The Victim, Witness and Family Protection Program.
- Obtaining protection from harm, and/or threats of harm arising out of cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts.
- Upon request, assistance in informing employers that the need for victim or witness cooperation in the prosecution of the case may necessitate absences from work.
You Have the Right to Notification.
You have the right to receive notification regarding…
- Defendant’s release on bond and any special conditions of release.
- Charges filed against the Defendant.
- The Defendant’s pleading to the charges.
- Trial date (including any changes).
- Trial verdict.
- A scheduled hearing for shock probation or bail pending appeal and any resulting orders.
- Changes in custody of the Defendant. Sign up for free victim notifications with VINE.
- Sentencing date, and any Parole Board hearings held for the Defendant.
- Any proceedings you are required to attend and prompt notification of any scheduled changes that affect your appearance.
- The right to submit a victim impact statement upon conviction.
- The right to have the Attorney General notify you, if there is an appeal of the conviction that is pursued by the Defendant.
- The right to prompt return of property held for evidentiary purposes unless there is a compelling reason for retaining it.
You Have the Right to Consultation.
You have the right to consultation on the case disposition, including…
- Case dismissal;
- Release of the Defendant, pending judicial proceedings;
- Any conditions of release;
- A negotiated plea; or
- Defendant’s entry into a Pre-trial Diversion Program.
Who can help me understand my rights and seek compliance?
The Office of Victims Advocacy within the Office of the Attorney General has victim advocates on staff who can answer general questions about crime victims rights, the criminal justice process and related topics. In addition, those victim advocates provide referrals to victim advocates, other resources and services in your local area. Our advocates also provide notification of court proceedings, accompaniment to court proceedings and attorney interviews, assistance filing for victim compensation and restitution, referrals to community resources, guidance with victim impact statements, etc., in cases prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General. Our crime victim information line is (800) 372-2551 or (502) 696-5312.
Parole Victim Services staff members are responsible for notifying victims of upcoming parole hearings, processing victim impact statements, scheduling hearings and assisting victims in general ways. More information is available by calling (800) 221-5991 or (502) 564-3620 or at justice.ky.gov.
Crime Victims Bill of Rights Handbook
The Attorney General has put together this Bill of Rights Handbook to help you understand your legal rights in the aftermath of a crime.
Crime Victims’ Information Guide
The Attorney General has put together this Crime Victims’ Information Guide to help crime victims navigate the criminal and civil legal system.
Attorney General Victims Rights Brochure
This brochure details the legal process, the roles of individuals throughout the legal process, your basic rights, and resources available to you.
This comprehensive brochure from the Office of the Attorney General covers the two most important benefits to restore a victim financially after the homicide death of a loved one.
Compensation Claim Application
If you need assistance in filling out the claim application, contact the Kentucky Claims Commission – Crime Victims Compensation office at 800-469-2120 or 502-573-2290.
For more information, visit: Office of Claims & Appeals
Victim Impact Statements
Victims may provide a written victim impact statement, which contains the extent of the psychological, physical, and financial impacts, as well as the need for restitution due to the crime.
For more information, visit: http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/victim-resources/
Department of Corrections Victim Services
The Victim Services Branch (VSB) is committed to assisting victims and survivors throughout the duration of the offender’s incarceration and supervision. We ensure that crime victims are treated with dignity and respect. A victim’s need for assistance does not stop once an offender has been sentenced. In fact, it continues throughout an offender’s incarceration and supervision.
If you are a victim of a crime, please contact our office to ensure you are registered for assistance.
Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA)
NOVA offers information for those who have lost a loved one to homicide. They offer a 24-hour hotline for victims, counseling services, a children’s advocacy center, and victim advocacy programs.
Kentucky.gov Commonwealth Attorneys
Link to Commonwealth Attorneys who are over homicide prosecutions.
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) is a free automated notification system that alerts victims and concerned citizens about a change in custody of an offender. The system gathers information from jail booking systems, prisons and mental health facilities.
Vine will tell you if an offender is in custody and will give you important status information. VINE allows you to register a phone number(s) and/or email address where you can be notified automatically when his/her custody status changes. Click here for brief descriptions on the various types of notifications.
The National Center for Victims of Crime
The National Center for Victims of Crime has a number of resources available to assist victims of crime. Our National Help Line, VictimConnect, provides help for victims of any crime nationwide, and can be reached by phone at 1–855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846) or by online chat.
The VictimConnect Resource Center is a place for crime victims to learn about their rights and options confidentially and compassionately. A program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, it combines:
- A traditional telephone-based helpline: 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846)
- An innovative online chat: Chat.VictimConnect.org
- Web-based information and service referrals: VictimConnect.org
With extensive specialized training, our Victim Assistance Specialists stand ready to help crime victims understand their rights and options, find information and connect with resources, access referrals, and craft next steps to regain control over their lives.
Office for Victims of Crime
OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance and publications and products to victim assistance professionals.
Compensation and Assistance Services
State victim assistance and compensation programs are the lifeline services that help victims to heal in the aftermath of crime. Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) formula grants for crime victim compensation are awarded to every state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. These grants supplement state funds that reimburse victims for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime.
VOCA formula grants for crime victim assistance, awarded through subgrants to state agencies and local service providers, support direct services to crime victims in every state, the District of Columbia, and every territory. Through the VOCA Assistance Formula Grant Program, OVC supports some 4,000 victim assistance programs throughout the United States and its territories each year.