The Rights of Victims of Crime

 Nevada law provides a victim of a crime many statutory rights that were not traditionally available to them in earlier times. These statutes have several goals in their operation. The first is to keep victims of crime safe from further injury at the hands of the perpetrator or those acting on his behalf. Second, the statutes strive to facilitate a better experience for the victim within the criminal justice system, a system that can be difficult for victims of crime to comprehend. Third, victim rights statutes work to make the victim whole again, to the limited extent that laws can do that, by allowing for restitution and civil liability by the offender for the injuries caused to the victim. 

Crime victim advocates often report that, even with the advancement of victim-friendly laws, the criminal justice process can still be difficult and stressful for victims of crime. Sometimes, judges, attorneys, and others who work within the criminal justice system, those who have become comfortable with its rules, sometimes forget how the system appears to new comers, and how it treats them. When this occurs, when victims feel they have been treated callously, victims often become angry and resentful toward criminal justice professionals. Crime victim advocates understand that, without victims of crime, there is no criminal justice system.

Victims of crime are often faced with maneuvering through this strange new world at the very time that they can least deal with this added stress-immediately after being victimized. It is clear that the criminal justice system is imperfect, but its treatment of victims of crime has markedly improved over the past twenty years, and Nevada has some of the most progressive laws that create and protect a victims rights in that system. Many police agencies and prosecutor's offices have victim advocates, professionals who are there solely for victims--to guide them through the maze of legal twists and turns that spring up during court cases. Victims can turn to these helpful and dedicated, and well-informed, professionals for help and assistance. Nevada also benefits from a number of highly trained non-profit victim service agencies that work to ameliorate victim injury. A list of these agencies, both public and non-profit, appears at the end of this section. Links to some of these agencies also appear on the front page of this website. 

The following is a relatively short list and explanation of several of the most applicable victim rights statutes. This list is only a partial presentation of the many rights belonging to victims of crime in the State of Nevada, but it includes a balanced, representative sample of rights that benefit victims of crime. 

NRS 33.018-33.030: Domestic violence, protective orders

A victim of domestic violence may apply to the court for an Order for Protection Against Domestic Violence, to be served by the police agency on the aggressor, when specific facts show that he or she, or a child, is the victim of domestic violence by a spouse, a former spouse, blood relative, relative by marriage, present or former housemate, a person with whom he or she is having or had a dating relationship, or has had a child in common, by battery, assault, a forced act, sexual assault, harassment, false imprisonment, or unlawful entry; if granted, the Order will enjoin the adverse party from contacting, threatening, injuring, or harassing the victim.

NRS 62.193(6): Child victim or witness, expedited hearing

A court may, in its discretion, and at the prosecutor's request, expedite the date of a juvenile adjudication hearing if the victim or witness is sixteen years of age or younger, upon consideration of the effect of delay of the hearing on the victim's or witness's mental or emotional health or well-being. 

NRS 62.455 Juvenile sex offenders

A juvenile adjudicated delinquent for a sexual offense must be placed under the supervision of a probation officer and may not attend the school that the victim attends unless the court develops an alternative plan of supervision for the delinquent child that protects the safety and the interests of the victim.

NRS 171.1225: Domestic violence, advice by police

A peace officer at the scene of a suspected domestic violence must explain the mandatory arrest requirement of NRS 171.137, advise the victim of the means to prevent future abuse, the victim's right to press charges, the Protective Order process, and the availability of emergency assistance and shelter.

NRS 176A.400: Prohibiting defendant's contact with victim 

After a criminal conviction, a sentencing court has full authority to prohibit the defendant from contacting the victim or a witness as a condition of probation. 

NRS 178.5692: Protection from threats of further harm to victim

If a victim or witness who is cooperating with the prosecutor in a criminal case reasonably apprehends that he or she may suffer threats of harm or actual harm, the sheriff or police, upon written request, must investigate the circumstances, take adequate measures to protect the victim or witness, and then inform him or her of the level of the protection being provided.

NRS 178.5696: Victim/witness secure waiting area, list of property, witness fee

A criminal court must provide victims and witnesses a secure waiting area which is not used by the members of the jury or the defendant and his family and friends. A law enforcement agency or a court must, if requested in writing, provide to the victim or witness a list of the property held in custody, unless the disclosure would seriously impede the investigation. Law enforcement must expeditiously return property when it is no longer needed as evidence. The prosecutor must inform each witness of his right to a witness fee.

NRS 200.3771: Identity of sexual assault victim confidential 

The identity of a sexual assault victim as contained in court records and investigative reports, including the victim's likeness, name, and address, is confidential and may be released only by court order based on a finding of good cause; the information is available to the defense in a criminal case for the sole purpose of preparing a defense, and may not be released beyond that need.

NRS 217.100: Victims of crime compensation fund, application

A victim of crime, and certain members of his family and those providing him support and services, may apply to the State Board of Examiners for compensation, subject to the limitations of funding, for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses for which insurance benefits and other sources do not cover. 

NRS 217.300: Costs for treatment borne by county

Each county must pay any cost incurred for medical care resulting from a sexual assault which is provided to the victim within 72 hours of the assault.

NRS 179B.200: Central Repository for Criminal History created, registration

The Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety shall establish within the Central Repository For Nevada Records of Criminal History a statewide registry of sex offenders and offenders convicted of a crime against a child.

NRS 179B.250: Public access to Central Repository 

The Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety must establish within the Central Repository For Nevada Records of Criminal History a program to provide the public with access to certain information contained in the Registry, within guidelines established by various statutes and regulations.

NRS 179B.300: Statewide Registry for sex offenders, victim names confidential

Information available to the public through the Statewide Registry of Sex Offenders and Offenders Convicted of a Crime Against a Child which is disclosed to a requester regarding criminal convictions must not reveal the name of any victim of crime.

NRS 62.193(12): Victim informed of juvenile case disposition

The prosecutor must inform the victim of a crime committed by a juvenile of the disposition of the case, if requested by the victim. Personal information pertaining to the victim received by the prosecutor in the victim's request is confidential.

NRS 176.015(3): Victim Impact Statements

At the sentencing hearing, the court must afford the victim an opportunity to appear personally, through counsel, or by a personal representative, and reasonably express any views concerning the crime, the person responsible, the impact of the crime on the victim, and the need for restitution, after notice of the hearing by the prosecutor.

NRS 178.5698: Informing victim of defendant's custody status

If a victim or witness so requests in writing, the prosecutor or police agency must inform the victim or witness if the defendant is released from custody before the final disposition of the case, either on bail or on his own recognizance, and the amount of bail required to be posted by the defendant. If a victim or witness so requests in writing, the prosecutor must inform the victim or witness of the final disposition of the case. If a criminal defendant is convicted of a sexual offense or an offense involving the use of force or violence, or threatened force or violence, the district court must give each witness forms which advise him or her of the right to be notified by prison officials of the defendant's release from prison, and must give forms to each victim and witness, and to certain family members, which advise them of their rights of notification under NRS 176.015, 176A.630, 209.392, 209.521, 213.010, 213.040, 213.095, 213.130, and of notification by prison officials of an inmate's release from prison. 

NRS 209.392(2): Informing victim of defendant's custody status

If an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of Prisons, who is eligible for residential confinement and who meets certain other criteria requests to be transferred to a residential confinement program, the victim, if he or she has requested in writing to the Parole Board under NRS 213.130 to be notified of the possibility of the inmate's parole release and has provided the Parole Board with his or her address, must be notified by the Division of Parole and Probation and advised that he has the right to submit documentation to the Division of Parole and Probation regarding the inmate's request. All personal information pertaining to the victim received by the Division pursuant to these rights is confidential. 

NRS 213.010: Informing victim of defendant's clemency application, pardons

If the victim so requests in writing, the State Board of Pardons Commissioners must give written notice to the victim of their meetings when a prisoner who committed crimes against the victim has applied for clemency (full or partial forgiveness of the original sentence) . The victim has the right to submit a written statement to the Board pertaining to the inmate's clemency request. All personal information pertaining to the victim received by the Board pursuant to these rights is confidential. 

NRS 41.133: Civil liability of perpetrator for harm to victim

Upon the conviction of a crime, the judgment of conviction is conclusive evidence of all facts necessary to impose civil liability for any injury caused by the offender.

NRS 41.134: Civil liability of perpetrator for harm to victim

A victim of domestic violence injury may bring a civil action to recover for damages, and may additionally collect attorneys fees.

NRS 41.139: Civil liability of perpetrator for harm to police officer, other, victim

An injured police officer, sheriff's deputy, fireman, or emergency medical attendant may bring certain civil actions for damages against a person who knowingly or negligently caused the injuries. 

NRS 41.1395: Civil liability of perpetrator for elder abuse, double damages

If a person 60 years of age or older, or a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the person, is injured by abuse, neglect, or exploitation, he may bring a civil action against the abuser, and he may collect double damages for the injury, and in some cases, attorneys fees.

NRS 41.1398: Liability for disclosure of confidential information

A victim of a sexual assault may bring an action for damages against a person who discloses confidential information relating to the victim in violation of NRS 200.3771-200.3774.

NRS 176.145(1): Sentencing court must obtain victim impact information

In a sentencing proceeding, when the judge orders the Division of Parole and Probation to prepare a pre-sentence investigation report to assist him or her in sentencing the defendant, the report must contain information concerning the effect that the crime had on the victim including any physical or psychological harm and financial loss, if that information is reasonably available. 

NRS 176A.400: Victim right to restitution for harm by perpetrator

A Sentencing court has the full authority to order that the defendant make restitution to the victim as a condition of releasing the defendant on probation.

NRS 176A.430: Victim right to restitution for harm by perpetrator

In a sentencing hearing the judge must order, as a condition of probation, that the defendant make restitution, including, where necessary, payment for medical or psychological treatment of the victim. If the defendant willingly fails to comply with the conditions of his probation, he is in violation of his probation, and his probation may be revoked by the court and the defendant sent to prison.

In sum, these statutes were designed to provide victims of crime with four basic rights: safety from further harm, information about what is going on in the case, involvement in the criminal prosecution process, including the right to speak at the sentencing hearing, and the right to be made whole through restitution. 

In spite of the fact that victims still often feel like outsiders to the decision-making process once the State machinery of the criminal justice system gats involved, the rights provided to victims of crime represent a vast improvement over the situation just twenty years ago, a situation that saw victims excluded from virtually every aspect of their own case. These statutory rights serve as a recognition by the Nevada Legislature that victims have a legitimate place as insiders in the criminal justice system.