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Victim's Rights: Illinois Voters to Consider Constitutional Amendment

Posted on in Personal Injury

victims rights, Illinois civil suit, McHenry County personal injury attorney, personal injury lawsuit, victim's rights, constitutional amendment, victim's injuries, criminal case, guilty pleaThere are several instances when a civil personal injury lawsuit can be entwined with a criminal case. For instance, an assault that leads to serious injuries can result in a civil suit by the victim to recover for his or her injuries, as well as a criminal suit by the state. Criminal suits are handled with minimal involvement on the part of the victim. A victim does have rights related to the cases, such as the right to be notified of court dates and the right to address the court. However, as the law stands, a victim does not have many options to enforce these rights if violated.

This November, Illinois voters will go to the ballot boxes to determine whether they want to amend the state's constitution to provide more security for victim's rights. The amendment, labeled HJRCA 29, would implement a variety of modifications to the state's constitution to provide victims with the ability to better enforce their rights.

Entwined Civil and Criminal Cases

Civil cases frequently have criminal counterparts; hence, personal injury plaintiffs are often also the victims of crimes. In fact, these cases may be intertwined enough that they can have tangible effects on each other. For instance, a guilty plea in a criminal case can be entered as evidence in a civil case to prove that the defendant should pay for the plaintiff's damages. However, despite the fact that these cases often stem from the same events, victims have comparatively little to do with the criminal case. This is because a victim's injuries are redressed in the related civil case, while the the criminal case focuses more on the criminal's harm to society as a result of his or her crimes.

What the Amendment Would Do

Even when victims do attempt to exercise their limited rights, such as trying to make a statement in the trial, they can run into issues when courts refuse them the ability. This is complicated by language in the Illinois constitution that forbids victims from having their rights addressed in a criminal appeals process. This language has been interpreted by courts to mean that if something goes wrong with a victim's rights, such as not being allowed to make a statement at sentencing, the issue cannot be fixed by appealing to a higher court. The new amendment makes a variety of changes, but the proponents see the removal of that language as the key to allowing victims to better enforce their rights.

If you have been the victim of a crime and would like to examine the possibility of bringing a civil suit against the perpetrator, contact a dedicated McHenry County personal injury attorney today. Our firm can help you enforce your rights and make sure your receive full and fair compensation for any harm you may have suffered.

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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