Victim Services Division
Colbert County Courthouse
201 N. Main Street
Second Floor
Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674
(256) 386-8520

Jennifer Thorp, Victim Services Officer

CONSTITUTION OF ALABAMA OF 1901

Amendment No. 557

Basic Rights For Crime Victims

(a) Crime victims, as defined by law or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when authorized, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the person accused of committing the crime.

(b) Nothing in this amendment or in any enabling statute adopted pursuant to this amendment shall be construed as creating a cause of action against the state or any of its agencies, officials, employees, or political subdivisions. The Legislature may from time to time enact enabling legislation to carry out and implement this amendment.

As A Victim, You Have The Following Rights:

1. To be present at all criminal proceedings.

2. To confer with the prosecutor handling your case prior to the final disposition of the case.

3. To confer with the prosecutor handling your case prior to the commencement of a trial. (This does not include the right to direct the prosecution of the case).

4. To submit a written or oral impact statement to the probation officer for use in preparing a pre-sentence or pre-probation report, and the right to review a copy of this report.

5. To present evidence, an impact statement, or other information regarding the crime at a probation or restitution hearing.

6. To know the sentence imposed against the defendant.

7. To refuse an interview with, or any other communication by the defendant, his attorney, or anyone acting on his behalf.

8. To any information pertaining to the return and recovery of any property.


In Order To Invoke These And Other Rights:

Click Here to download a printable version of a form to invoke your rights as a victim.

Be sure to print the form out using the landscape layout instead of portrait. Complete the form and deliver it to the District Attorney’s Office located on the 2nd Floor of the Colbert County Courthouse in downtown Tuscumbia, or mail it to the District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 534, Tuscumbia, Alabama, 35674.

Please remember to keep your address and telephone number current, as your request will be considered withdrawn and void if you fail to do so.


Alabama Law Also Provides For:

RESTITUTION - Restitution is to be paid by defendants for any monetary loss, damage, or injury they cause as the result of their criminal activity. Restitution is ordered by the court upon conviction of the defendant.

COMPENSATION - You may be eligible for compensation from the Alabama Victims Compensation Commission if you meet the following criteria:

A) You have suffered a personal injury as a result of criminally injurious conduct, or you are the dependent of a deceased victim, if such victim died as a result of this crime.

B) You did not cause or contribute to the injury or death of the victim.

C) The incident was reported to law enforcement within 72 hours and you cooperated fully with law enforcement officials.

D) Your economic loss has not been paid by other sources, such as insurance.

E) An application is filed within one (1) year of the incident.

(Click here to visit the Crime Victims Compensation website and to download an application for victims compensation)

CRIMINAL FELONY PROCEDURAL STEPS

In all of the following steps, with the exception of the Grand Jury proceedings, you, as a victim, have the right to be present. Although you are not required to be present unless you are "subpoened" to give testimony.

PRELIMINARY HEARING: This is a hearing held in District Court before a Judge only. This proceeding is designed to determine whether the State has sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for going forward with its prosecution of the particular defendant. An actual hearing at this point is not required and such a hearing is frequently waived by the defendant. If the hearing is waived by the defendant or if there is an actual hearing and the Court finds that the State has established probable cause, the case is then bound over to the Grand Jury.

GRAND JURY: This is the stage at which the formal charge or charges against the defendant are considered. The proceedings of the Grand Jury, by law, are required to be conducted in secret. You will, therefore, not be allowed to be present throughout the entire session. Your testimony may, however, be required. Only the State’s evidence is presented to the Grand Jury. The defendant, the defendant’s attorney, and any other witnesses for the defendant will not be present.

In some cases the defendent may, at his request, testify when a signed waiver is filed. If the Grand Jury determines that probable cause exists relevant to a particular charge, an indictment or true bill is returned against the defendent and he or she is officially charged with the specific criminal offense. If the Grand Jury fails to return an indictment the prosecution is terminated.

ARRAIGNMENT: This is a proceeding during which the defendant is informed of the formal charge or charges against him or her that have been returned by the Grand Jury and at which time they announce their formal plea. Most defendants plead not guilty and request that the case be set for trial.

MOTIONS HEARINGS: Such hearings are not held in every case. The purpose of these, usually brief, hearings is to resolve matters concerning the presentation of evidence in the manner in which the trial will be conducted.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE: This is a formal meeting between the District Attorney and the attorney for the defendant. At this point, the attorneys attempt to determine if an actual trial will be required or if the defendant will change his plea to guilty. Your presence will not be required at this point, however, you have an absolute right to be present. If necessary, your input will be solicited by the victim service officer.

TRIAL: This is the formal proceeding in which the guilt or innocence of the defendant is determined, usually by a jury. If you are to be called as a witness, you will receive a subpoena, an order requesting your presence at the trial. If you will call our office immediately upon receiving the subpoena, we will place you on call so as to avoid needless time spent waiting for the trial to actually begin.

SENTENCING AND PROBATION HEARING: This is a separate proceeding held after the conclusion of the trial in which the Court imposes punishment on the defendant. If the defendant requests probation, the Court will also make a determination as to whether or not probation will be granted.

If you have further questions, or need help with crime victims information, contact Mrs. Thorp.