Crime Victims Bill of Rights
The Mississippi Constitution was amended in 1998 to provide for the fair treatment of crime victims within this state. Section 26(a) of the Mississippi Constitution states: “Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and to be informed, present and heard, when authorized by law, during public hearings”.
The Mississippi Legislature passed the Mississippi Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in order to carry out the constitutional amendment. The Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights provides several rights, privileges, and notices to crime victims throughout the criminal justice process. The law requires that law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary (court officials), correctional system and executive authority (Governor) must provide these rights, privileges and notices to crime victims.
For purposes of the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights:
1. “Victim” means a person against whom the criminal offense has been committed, or if the person is deceased or incapacitated, the lawful representative.
• If the victim is physically or emotionally unable to exercise these rights, he/she may designate in writing a person to be his/her representative.
• If the victim is deceased, the court will appoint a representative who is not a witness to the crime.
• If the victim is a minor, a family member may be designated as the victims’ representative or the court may appoint a representative for the child.
• The victim who is represented by another person may decide to personally exercise his/her rights as soon as he/she is physically, mentally, emotionally or legally competent to do so.
2. The following violent offenses apply:
• Crimes which involve physical injury or the threat of physical injury.
• Any sexual offense.
• Any offense involving spousal abuse or domestic violence.
OBTAINING YOUR RIGHTS
In order to receive this benefit of the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, a victim must file a written request with the law enforcement agency assigned to your case and the prosecutor. A form titled Request to Exercise Victims’ Rights has been designed by the Office of the Attorney General and is available at law enforcement agencies, district attorney’s offices and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Crime Victim Compensation Division. This form will be given to you in a packet of information provided by the investigating officer within seventy-two hours following the crime. (Until your case has been turned over to the prosecuting attorney, you will need to call the investigating officer for an update on the status of your case.)
The victim or the lawful victim representative is required to:
• Complete and sign the Request to Exercise Victims’ Rights form
• Send the form to the investigator and/or prosecutor handling your case
• Keep the investigator and/or prosecutor informed of any changes in your name, address and/or telephone number(s)
It is the victim’s responsibility to provide updated information to the investigator and/or prosecutor. Failure to provide these changes may be considered a withdrawal of your request for victims’ rights. The safest route is to always provide any changes or updated information.
Please note that written requests are required to obtain your rights, and often many other offices are involved in handling your case, not just the prosecutor. You are encouraged to read the Bill of Rights so you can determine what different offices may be involved in handling your case. Be sure that all of these offices have a copy of your written request. These offices may include: any agency which has physical custody of the offender (county or city jail) Department of Corrections, Parole Board, Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Governor.
If you have not received the information packet or the Request to Exercise Victims’ Rights form, please contact the Crime Victim Compensation Division at 1.800.829.6766 or 601.359.4144 for a copy.
SAVIN VICTIM NOTIFICATION SYSTEM
This automated network program allows Mississippi victims to receive realtime information about the custody status of state inmates and offenders housed in county jails statewide. From booking to release, victims can register for immediate access to offender information including notification about the offender’s placement, release, transfer or other change in custody status while maintaining total anonymity. There is no cost to utilize the service, and the information can be accessed by telephone or internet.
Crime victims may register by calling 1.888.9MS.SAVIN (1.888.967.7284) or online at www.vinelink.com.
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Sex Offender Registry
AG Victim Unit
The mission of the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Circuit Court, under the direction of
W. Dewayne Richardson, is to seek justice in order to maintain an environment of safety, security and lawful behavior for the citizens of the Fourth District.
The Office of the District Attorney uses lawful and reasonable methods to successfully identify and prosecute those who commit felony crimes. When a crime occurs, the Office of the District Attorney diligently pursues the indictment and conviction of those responsible, while adhering to all rights of the Victim, ensuring the victim is being provided all direct services applicable, and acknowledging all constitutional safeguards for the accused.
The District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth
District’s goal is to work with law enforcement and the judiciary to punish those who break our laws with adequate punishment. Every representative of the Office of the District Attorney pledges their commitment and full support to the protection of all citizens within the Fourth Circuit Court District.
P.O. Box 426
Greenville MS 38702
P.O. Box 1046
Indianola, MS 38751
P.O. Box 253
Greenwood, MS 38935
Citizen's Involvement in the criminal justice system typically begins with them being a victim, witness, or defendant of a crime. Arrests are made generally by a judge-issued warrant or by a police officer observing a crime in process. Law enforcement may also arrest someone if it has probable cause to believe the person committed a criminal offense. When individuals are arrested they are routinely advised of their Miranda Rights upon arrest, advising them that they have the right to remain silent and that anything they say will be used against them in court. On being questioned, defendants have the right to have their attorney present or to have one appointed if they are indigent.
Felony defendants appear at a first appearance and have the charges reviewed. A judge will inquire if the defendant has an attorney. If low income, the defendant may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. No plea is entered at this time unless the defendant wishes to plead guilty or waives indictment and has an attorney present. All felony cases are presented to a grand jury in the county that the crime was committed. In the State of Mississippi, only a grand jury has the authority to indict an individual for a felony offense and require them to stand trial for the charges alleged in an affidavit and indictment.
If an indictment is issued, the defendant is bound over to stand trial or enter a guilty plea to the crimes alleged. When a criminal trial occurs all 12 jurors must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentences are decided by Circuit Court Judges in all criminal matters. In most cases a recommendation is made regarding imprisonment, probation, fines and restitution.
Disclaimer of Liability
The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice. With respect to any information found on this web site, neither the Office of the District Attorney, 4th District, nor any of its employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and aptness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the inaccuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information conveyed. Nothing contained in the Web site is intended to constitute a promise, expressed or implied, by the Office of the District Attorney, 4th District to engage in any undertaking. The Washington County District Attorney's Office is not responsible for the contents of any off-site pages referenced. These links are provided as an information service only.
To the extent that pending criminal matters are discussed in this website, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The materials on this Web site are copyrighted. Copying, reproduction, or distribution of any part of this Web site is prohibited without the prior written consent of the Office of the District Attorney, 4th District. However, downloading and printing of materials from this web site is allowed for the personal use of visitors to the web site. In fact, such use is encouraged.
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