Your Rights as a Victim in Circuit Court
The Circuit Courts in Maryland are general jurisdiction trial courts handling all trials including:
- More serious criminal cases
- Major civil cases
- Family matters (including divorce, child custody, child support)
- Appeals from District Court, Orphan’s Court, and administrative agencies
The Circuit Court hears all jury trials, and oversees grand jury proceedings.
If your offender is being prosecuted in the Circuit Court of your county (or Baltimore City), the following are your rights as a victim of crime:
Your Right to Be Treated with Dignity, Respect, and Sensitivity
Article 47 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights guarantees you, as the victim of crime, the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity during all phases of the criminal justice process and by all agents of the criminal justice system.
Your Right to Be Notified of Court Events Related to Your Case
Within 10 days of the filing of a petition to the Court, the State’s Attorney’s Office should send you a Crime Victim Notification and Demand for Rights form. You should complete this form and send it back to the State’s Attorney’s Office in the city or county where the crime occurred as soon as possible. When you file this form, the State’s Attorney’s Office is required by law to notify you of all events related to your case. You are also eligible to receive notification through the VINE system, an automatic notification system. VINE Fact Sheet
Your Right to Be Present at the Court Events Related to Your Case
You have the right to attend any court event that the Defendant has a right to attend. When you file the Crime Victim Notification and Demand for Rights form, you are notifying the State’s Attorney’s Office that you want to attend all court events. Arrive early on the day of the court event and notify the State’s Attorney that you are there. If you are a witness to the crime, you may need to testify for the State. You may not be able to sit in the courtroom until after you testify. After you testify, you have the right to be present in the courtroom unless the Court determines otherwise.
Your Rights to Be Heard Before Sentencing is Imposed
You have the right to give written and oral victim impact statements to the Court before sentencing. You may do this by obtaining a form from the prosecuting State’s Attorney or by writing your own statement detailing how the crime has impacted you and your family. As soon as you have completed your victim impact statement, send a copy to the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the defense attorney.
Your Right to Restitution from Your Offender
You have the right to request from your offender out-of-pocket costs incurred as a direct result of the crime. To request this restitution, you should file a Request for Restitution with the State’s Attorney prosecuting the case, the Clerk of the Circuit Court Clerk, and the defense attorney. Your Request should detail all expenses and should include receipts and bills, if they are available. You also have the right to collect on a judgment of restitution.
Your Right to Be Informed of a Plea Agreement
You have the right to be informed of the terms and conditions of a plea agreement. Although you have the right to be notified of a plea agreement, you do not have the right to decide whether the plea is accepted by the Court. Only the judge has that right. You do, however, have the right to express your opinion about the plea agreement through your victim impact statement. If you do not agree with the plea, you should tell the Court and the State’s Attorney.