The History of Crime Victims’ Rights In America


This is a historical overview of crime victims’ rights in the United States and Maryland.:


  • Sentencing Procedures – Statement by Victim or Victim’s Representative (Alex’s Law).  Provides that all victims shall be heard if practicable.  Chapter 151 (SB 272)
  • Crime Victim and Crime Victim’s Representative – Electronic Notification. Provides victims and representatives with the option to request and to receive electronic notification.  Chapter 205 (SB 922)
  • Victims of Crime – Legal Representatives of Minors and Disabled and Elderly Persons. Clarifies authority to help protect the interests and rights of victims.  Chapter 207 (SB 940)
  • Criminal Procedure – Programs for Survivors of Homicide Victims. Creates an infrastructure and funding authorization to assist family members of homicide victims.   Chapter 223  (HB 355)


  • Medical Records – Disclosure in Response to Compulsory Process. Protects crime victim privacy by providing notice of subpoenas of a victim’s medical record to victims and prosecutors to have a better opportunity to object. Chapter 287 (SB 557)
  • Criminal Procedure – Victims’ Rights – Remedy and Priority of Restitution. Provides an express remedy to remedy a violation of a victim’s right and creates a priority regarding restitution for crime victims in collections. Chapter 363 (HB 250)
  • Correctional Services – Inmate Earnings – Compensation for Victims of Crime. Requires that certain inmate income be paid towards restitution and requires a study on how to increase the collection of restitution from other inmate earnings.Chapter 652 (HB 921)


  • Wrongful Death and Survival Causes of Action – Criminal Homicide – Time Limits for Bringing Civil Action. Expands the time that civil wrongful death and survival actions may be filed for conduct that would be a criminal homicide until the discovery of the death and the identity of the perpetrator(s). Chapter 239 (SB 453)/ Chapter 240 (HB 707)
  • State Government – Commemorative Days – Crime Victims and Advocates. Recognizes April 3rd of each year (the date Stephanie Roper was murdered) as annual date to honor crime victims and advocates who serve victims. Chapter 678 (HB 766)
  • Courts – Victims of Crime – Interpreters. Allows victims who are deaf or who do not speak English to request an interpreter and requires the court to appoint. Chapter 705 (HB 1148)


  • Criminal Procedure – Victims’ Rights – Enforcement. Allow a victim to request a determination of restitution if court denied or failed to consider restitution. Chapter 362 (HB 801)


  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Board – Right to Hearing. Mandated a hearing upon a victim’s request if a victim compensation claim was denied or reduced and requires the following the Administrative Procedures Act when determining a claim. Chapter 69 (SB 442)/ Chapter 70 (HB 138)
  • Police Training Commission – Additional Minimum Training Requirements. Created victim related training requirements for law enforcement. Chapter 107 (SB 820)/ Chapter 108 (HB 779)
  • Identity Fraud – Uniform Reporting Form – created a uniform identity theft reporting form. Chapter 351 (SB 815)/ Chapter 352 (HB 785)


  • Violent Crimes – Conditional Release Under Mandatory Supervision – Limitation. Establishes that an inmate convicted of a violent crime is not eligible for release until after the inmate becomes eligible for parole; and requires in open court, the court to announce the release restriction when imposing a sentence. Chapter 583 (SB 654) / Chapter 584 (HB638)


  • No major legislation proposed or supported by the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center was adopted.


  • Unclaimed Restitution-Disbursements and Use-Directs unclaimed restitution funds to provide assistance for crime victims with their rights. Commercial Law, §§ 17-101, 17-317; Criminal Procedure, § 11-919, Chapter 125 (SB 93) and Chapter 126 (HB 1001)
  • A Bond Bill to help provide permanent office space for the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Foundation, Inc Bond Bill rolled into Capital Budget. (Chapter 488, SB/HB 408)


  • Victims Rights – Leave to appeal. Expands victims’ rights to appeal to include restitution, notice, and juvenile matters. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ARTICLE,
  • § 11-103. (Chapter 260, SB 509)
  • Incompetency Procedures – Provides notification rights to victims of offenders who are civilly committed after criminal charges are dismissed. CRIMINAL PROCEDURES ART. § 3-123 (L)(Chapter 353, HB 795
  • Prevent victim name, address, and other identifying information from remote access (i.e. the Internet) RULE 16 -1008 (a)(3)(B)(Court adopted rule and legislation was therefore not passed)


  • Improvement of Maryland’s law to prevent intimidation of victims and witnesses and to punish those who intimidate victims or witnesses. MD CODE ANN., COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS, ART. § 10-901 and CRIMINAL LAW ART. § 9-301, 9-302, 9-303, 9-305 (Chapter 461,SB 188/SB 122)
  • Technical improvements to the restitution statute. MD CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, ART. § Various Sections in Title 11, Subtitle 6 (Chapter 512, 873)
  • A Bond Bill to help provide permanent office space for the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. Bond Bill rolled into Capital Budget. (Chapter 446, SB 442/HB 866)
  • To allow participation by MCVRC staff in the state’s health insurance plan. STATE PERSONNEL AND PENSIONS 2-512 (Chapter 223 HB 599)


  • Corrections Bill: Requires the Commission on Correctional Standards to include victim notification and restitution requirements in their audits of correctional facilities. JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS, CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. SEC. 8-103 (Chapter 147, SB 883)
  • Reconsiderations: Modified Maryland’s controversial reconsideration rule to limit the Court’s power to reconsider sentences to five years after the imposition of sentence. (Court Rule 4-345)
  • Truth in Sentencing: Fixed an error in the law so that offenders actually serve the sentence imposed by the Court. CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, ART. SEC. 7-401, 7-403, 7-502, 9-202 (Chapter 316, SB 884)


  • Definition of Crime: Expanded the definition of “crime” regarding restitution and the Maryland State Board of Victim Services to include all crimes except non-jailable motor vehicle offenses. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-601(d), 11-910(c)) (Chapters 322, HB 705).
  • Diminution Credits: Expanded the prohibition of inmates from receiving diminution credits from violent crimes to all crimes. (MD. CODE ANN., CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §7-502(c)) (Chapter 443, HB 706).


  • Incompetency/NCR: Expanded the rights of victims whose offenders have mental problems, making the rights similar to other crime victims. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 3-123, 11-104) (Chapter 485, HB 508)
  • Conditions of Release: Expanded the consideration of victim safety to victims in all criminal and juvenile cases (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §5-201) (Chapter 484, HB 507)
  • Criminal Injuries Comp: Expanded eligibility for compensation to victims of motor vehicle crimes, compensation for counseling to family members of victims, and crime scene clean-up and repairs. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-801—11-810) (Chapter 483, HB 504)


  • Transfer to Juvenile Court: Altered the definition of victim relating to transfer of criminal cases to the juvenile court. Altered the definition of victim to include family members and guardians of deceased or disabled victims for purposes of exercising their rights. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 6-101, 11-104) (Chapter 392, HB 586)


  • Truth in Sentencing: Required the court to announce the actual sentence by stating the maximum and minimum range of the sentence. Created the permanent Sentencing Commission. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §6-217) (Chapter 648, HB 602)
  • Post-Conviction— Provided that a victim will be notified and may be present at proceedings to consider motions for a new trial or at other proceedings to correct or set aside a sentence. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 6-105, 6-106, 7-105) (Chapter 621, HB 304)
  • Juvenile Hearings/Dispositions: In juvenile delinquency cases and criminal reverse waivers, provided victims with notification, the ability to be present, and the opportunity to comment on whether the child shall be tried in criminal or juvenile court. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 4-202, 11-104; MD. CODE ANN., COURTS ART. §§ 3-8A-06, 3-8A-16) (Chapter 619, HB 302)
  • Criminal Injuries Comp.: Gave the Criminal Injuries Board more discretion in determining victims’ eligibility for awards. Required a stuffy to determine the possible expansion of eligibility. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-801—11-819) (Chapter 622, HB 305)
  • Attendance at Proceedings: Prevented an employer from firing a victim who exercises a right to attend a criminal justice proceeding. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 6-101, 11-104, 11-302; MD. CODE ANN., COURTS ART. §9-205) (Chapter 620, HB 303)


  • Sentencing—Review: Required that victims who file a notification request form be notified and allowed to attend and address a judicial panel before modifying, increasing, or reducing a sentence. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 8-105, 8-108) (Chapter 367, SB 280)


  • Victims’ Rights Act of 1997: Made substantive revisions to Maryland Laws relating to crime victims. Expanded the rights of victims of felonies and delinquent acts that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony. Implemented Article 47 of the Declaration of Rights, Maryland Constitution, for victims to be informed, present, and heard at criminal justice proceedings. (Chapter 311 & 312, SB 173/HB 768)
  • Court Costs—Victims of Crime: Codified a $5.00 court cost to increase funding for the Maryland Victims of Crime Fund and the Victim and Witness Protection and Relocation Fund. (MD. CODE ANN., COURTS ART. §7-409) (Chapter 313, SB 174)
  • Wrongful Death—Damages: Expanded the ability of family members to collect economic and non-economic damages to include death of an adult child or the death of the parent of an adult child. Extended the statute of limitations for those under legal disabilities. (MD. CODE ANN., COURTS & JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS §§3-904, 5-201, and 11-108) (Chapter 318, HB 770)
  • Victims’ Rights—Notification: Required the prosecutor to notify victims in Circuit Court and juvenile cases about the terms and conditions of any plea agreement and judicial action. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-302) (Chapter 480, HB 506)
  • Victims’ Rights—Presence: Strengthened the right of victims of a crime or delinquent act or their representatives to be present at a criminal trial, and limits the court from excluding the victim after their initial testimony. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-302) (Chapter 479, HB 506)
  • Parole Hearings—Testimony: Expanded the rights of victims to testify at parole hearings to include those who file a notification request form. (MD. CODE ANN., CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §§ 7-304, 7-801; MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-505) (Chapter 362, SB 241)


  • Victims’ Rights—Notification: Created a notification system as the first step to implement Maryland’s Constitutional Amendment for Victims’ Rights. All victims are to be notified at initial contact. Victims of serious crimes will be notified again on indictment or information filed in Circuit Court. A one-step form for victims to request their rights is mandated. Made the $3.00 cost for non-jailable offenses permanent. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-104) (Chapter 641, SB 699/HB 975)
  • Reorganization of Laws: Recodified or cross-referenced all laws relating to victims and witnesses to a single sub-heading to help judges, attorneys, victims, and advocates to better identify victims’ rights laws. Facilitated substantive review of victims’ rights laws. (Chapter 585, SB 456/HB 576)
  • Court Costs—Victims of Crime: Continued a $5.00 court cost for jailable offenses and dedicated the fund to the Maryland Victims of Crime Fund. Allowed the State Board of Victim Services or the Governor to transfer some or all of the money to the Victim and Witness Protection and Relocation Fund. (Chapter 598, SB 741/HB 1209)


  • Court Costs—Victims of Crime: Created court costs of $3.00, both in District and Circuit Courts, for non-jailable traffic offenses for one year, to provide additional revenues to meet the needs of crime victim programs. Fines are split between the Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and the Maryland Victims of Crime Fund. (MD. CODE ANN., COURTS ART. §7-405) (Chapter 396, SB 709)


  • Restitution: Strengthened Maryland’s restitution law so as to increase the ordering and collecting of restitution in a criminal case. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-603—11-618) (Chapter 475, SB 274)
  • Victim/Witness Protection: Established a state program to protect and relocate threatened victims and witnesses of crime. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-902—11-904, 11-907) (Chapter 474, SB 273)
  • Constitutional Rights: Established an addition to the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution, which requires the State to notify victims of their rights to be informed of, to be present at, and to be heard at criminal justice proceedings. Grants victims standing to assert their rights in criminal justice proceedings. (Article 47, Maryland Declaration of Rights) (Chapter 102)


  • Stalking: Created the crime of stalking with a penalty of five years which may be imposed consecutive or concurrent to the individual acts amounting to the crime of stalking; Allows a police officer to make a warrantless arrest for probable cause. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL LAW ART. §§ 3-802; MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 2-205, 5-201) (Chapter 205 & 206, HB 433/SB 7)
  • Injuries Compensation: Established an offender-based revenue source to compensate victims of crime. It adds court costs to the sentence of those convicted of jailable traffic offenses and also provides additional funding for the Maryland Victims of Crime Fund to serve crime victims. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-819, 11-917) (Chapter 224, SB 262)
  • Crime Victims’ Right to Appeal: Clarifies the right of a crime victim to have a court review the denial or failure to consider their statutory rights to court attendance and to victim impact statements provided to victims of violent crime. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-103) (Chapter 421, SB 264, HB 1274)


  • HIV Notification for Victims: Allows victims to request the testing of their offenders, prior to or after conviction, for the presence of HIV; Requires that the court determine if there is probable cause that fluids capable of transmitting the virus were exchanged; Requires confidentiality and counseling for both the victim and the offender. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-107—11-117) (Chapter 90 & 91, HB 505/SB 332)
  • Profits or Proceeds of Crime: Corrects Maryland’s “Son of Sam” Law so that charged and convicted offenders would be prevented from profiting from the notoriety of their criminal actions. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-621—11-633) (Chapter 195, HB 1207)
  • Victims’ Notification, DOC: Expands victims’ rights of notification, face-to-face meetings with a Parole Commissioner, and allows a victim to request no contact with inmates as a condition of parole. (MD. CODE ANN., CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §§ 7-305, 7-401, 7-804, 7-805) (Chapter 139, HB 263)
  • Transfer of Victims’ Services: Transfers the Board of Victim Services from the Office of the Attorney General to the Governor’s Office for Justice Administration to provide for more effective advocacy. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-910—11-919) (Chapter 270, SB 649)


  • Maryland Crime Victims’ Fund: Created a funding source for the Maryland Victims’ of Crime Fund by imposing a $20 penalty assessment upon convicted offenders in Circuit Court, and a $10 penalty assessment upon convicted offenders in District Court. Collected funds may be used for victims’ services programs in local jurisdictions and the community. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-916, 11-917; MD. CODE ANN., COURTS ART. §7-409) (Chapter 561, HB 434)
  • Victims’ Notification: Created a notification of rights to victims whose offenders are not criminally responsible and allows these victims to provide a written request for notification when the offender is being considered for release, has been released, or escapes. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §3-123) (Chapter 379, SB 585)


  • Restitution: Recodified restitution law; Provides, in District Court cases, that victims be notified as to the procedures for converting a restitution order into a judgment without cost to the victim. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-603—11-614) (Chapters 385 & 386)


  • Victims’ Court Attendance: Strengthens a victim’s right to be present during a criminal trial by requiring determination of a good cause for exclusion. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-302) (Chapter 486, SB 416)
  • Restitution: Strengthens Maryland’s restitution law by: (1) Making restitution a judgment as in a civil case; (2) Mandating restitution as a condition of parole or work release; (3) Requiring justification when a court fails to order restitution. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 11-603—11-614) (Chapter 487, SB 417)
  • Statute of Limitations, Battery: Extended the statute of limitations for battery from one year to the general period of limitations of three years. (MD. CODE ANN., COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS ART. §§ 5-101, 5-105) (Chapter 488, SB 418)


  • State Board of Victim Services: Created a Victim Coordinator and Board of Victim Services within the Office of the Attorney General. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§11-910—11-919) (Chapter 256 & 257, SB 14, HB 546)
  • Sentencing Recommendations: Allows victims and sentencing judges to make recommendations regarding parole and protects disclosure of victims’ addresses and phone numbers. (MD. CODE ANN, CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §§ 7-303, 7-305, 7-801, 7-802) (Chapter 486, SB 546)


  • Patuxent Institution: Restricted eligibility to the Patuxent Institution to exclude those serving multiple life sentences for murder or capital murder. (MD. CODE ANN., CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §4-101(g)) (Chapter 164, SB 373)
  • Contracts for Compensation: “Son of Sam” Law—Preventing criminals from profiting from the notoriety of their criminal actions. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-633) (Chapter 165, SB 428)
  • Life without Parole: Allows the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §2-203) (Chapter 237, HB 693)


  • Guidelines for Victims: Established guidelines for the fair treatment of crime victims and witnesses. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§11-1001—11-1002) (Chapter 125, SB 274)
  • Truth in Sentencing Law: Requires judges to tell juries that a life sentence carries the eligibility of parole. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL LAW ART. §2-303(f)) (Chapter 126, SB 312)
  • Victim Allocution: Provides for an opportunity for the victim (victim’s representative) to address the sentencing judge or jury. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-403) (Chapter 127, HB 778)


  • Victim/Witness Protection: Allows the court to prohibit the disclosure of a victim’s or witness’s address or phone number. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-301) (Chapter 159, SB 255)
  • Victim Impact Statement: Allows a victim of violent crime to present a victim impact statement to the Parole Commission at the time of parole. (Chapter 523, SB 254)
  • Court Attendance: Authorized the court to allow a victim (under certain circumstances, a representative) to remain in the courtroom after testifying. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-302) (Chapter 563, SB 713)


  • Governor’s Task Force: Established Governor’s Task Force on Victims’ Services in lieu of legislative enactments. (HJR 55)


  • Alcohol and Drugs: Removed alcohol and drugs as listed mandatory mitigating circumstances in a capital case. (Chapter 296, HB 62)
  • Victim Impact Statement: Mandated the use of a victim impact statement as part of a pre-sentencing investigation, or by the State in felonies or misdemeanors that caused serious physical injury or death to a victim (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §11-402) (Chapter 297, SB 132)
  • Increased Life Sentence: Increased time before parole eligibility in a capital case from 15 years to 25 years. (MD. CODE ANN., CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ART. §7-301) (Chapter 298, SB 41)
  • The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) was created by U.S. Department of Justice to implement recommendations from the President’s task Force
  • The U.S. Attorney General established a Task Force on Family Violence
  • President Reagon honors crime victims in First White House Rose Garden ceremony
  • First National Conference of the Judiciary on Victims of Crime held at National Judicial College in Reno
  • Wisconsin passes First Child Victim & Witness Bill of Rights
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police adopts Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights


  • President Reagan appoints the Task Force on Victims of Crime – Final Report offers 68 recommendations to improve the treatment of crime victims, including an amendment to the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to guarantee victims’ rights to be present & heard at critical stages of judicial proceedings
  • The Federal Victim & Witness Protection Act is passed
  • California’s Proposition 8 is passed to guarantee restitution & other statutory reforms for crime victims
  • The Missing Children’s Act is passed by Congress to help find missing children through FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system


  • President Ronald Reagan proclaims the First “Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in April


  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founded
  • Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act passed by U.S. Congress
  • First Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights passed in Wisconsin


  • Crime Victims’ Legal Advocacy Institute founded by Frank Carrington – later renamed the Victims’ Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) to promote victims’ rights in the civil & criminal justice systems


  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is formed & initiates the introduction of the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act in U.S. Congress


  • The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards is established


  • First Victim impact statement created in California


  • First Victims’ Rights Week organized by the Philadelphia District Attorney
  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) founded to expand victims’ rights & services


  • The federal law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) funded the first victim/witness programs in Brooklyn and Milwaukee District Attorney’s offices


  • First Crime victim compensation program established in California (Maryland’s program created in 1972)