Colorado Victim’s Rights

In 1992, Colorado passed a state constitutional amendment that provides victims with certain rights. The Colorado State Constitution (Article II, Section 16a) provides that:

Any person who is a victim of a criminal act* of such person’s designee, legal guardian, or surviving immediate family members if such person is deceased, shall have the right to be heard when relevant, informed, and present at all critical stages of the criminal justice process. All terminology, including the term “critical stages,” shall be defined by general assembly.

*The Constitution of the State of Colorado and the laws of the state [24-4.1 – 302(1) C.R.S.] guarantee certain rights to the victims of the following criminal acts:

  • Murder – 1st and 2nd degree
  • Manslaughter
  • Criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide
  • Assault – 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree, vehicular
  • Menacing
  • Kidnapping – 1st and 2nd degree
  • Sexual Assault – 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree, on a child, on a child by one in a position of trust, on a client by a psychotherapist
  • Robbery – aggravated, aggravated of a controlled substance
  • Incest and aggravated incest
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Crimes against at-risk adults or at-risk juveniles
  • Crimes for which the underlying foundation has been determined to be domestic violence
  • Careless driving that results in the death of another person
  • Failure to stop at the scene of an accident that results in the death of another person
  • Harassment by stalking
  • Ethnic intimidation
  • Any criminal, conspiracy, criminal solicitation, or accessory involving any of the crimes specified above

If the victim is deceased or incapacitated, these rights may be exercised by the victim’s spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, significant other, or other lawful representative.

The following is a summary of the rights guaranteed to victims by the Victim Rights Act. For a complete listing of your rights, please refer to the Colorado Revised Statutes 24-4.1-101 through 24-4.1-304.

  • To be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect
  • To be informed of and present for all critical stages (see below) of the criminal justice process
  • To be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse and the right to be informed about what steps can be taken if there is any intimidation or harassment by a person accused or convicted of the crime or anyone acting on the person’s behalf
  • To be present and heard regarding bond reduction, continuances, acceptance of plea negotiations, case disposition, or sentencing
  • To consult with the district attorney prior to any disposition of the case or before the case goes to trial and to be informed of the final disposition of the case
  • To be informed of the status of the case and any scheduling changes or cancellations, if known in advance
  • To prepare a Victim Impact Statement and to be present and/or heard at sentencing
  • To have restitution ordered and to be informed of the right to pursue a civil judgement against the person convicted of the crime
  • To a prompt return of the victim’s property when no longer needed as evidence
  • To be informed of the availability of financial assistance and community services
  • To be given appropriate employer intercession services regarding court appearances and meetings with criminal justice officials
  • To be assured that in any criminal proceeding the court, the prosecutor, and other law enforcement officials will take appropriate action to achieve a swift and fair resolution of the proceedings
  • Whenever practical, to have a safe, secure waiting area during court proceedings
  • Upon request, to be informed when a person accused or convicted of the crime against the victim is released from custody, is paroled, escapes, or absconds from probation or parole
  • Upon written request, to be informed of and heard at any reconsideration of sentence, parole hearing, or commutation of sentence
  • Upon written request, to be informed when a person convicted of a crime against the victim is placed in or transferred to a less secure correctional facility or program or is permanently or conditionally transferred or released from any state hospital
  • To be informed of any rights which the victim has pursuant to the constitution of the United States or the State of Colorado
  • To be informed of the process for enforcing compliance with the Victim Rights Act

Additional rights and services are provided to child victims or witnesses. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges are encouraged to designate one or more individuals to try to assure that the child and their family understand the legal proceedings and have support and assistance to deal with the emotional impact of the crime and the subsequent criminal proceedings.

Criminal Justice agencies have certain responsibilities for assuring that victims receive their rights. Please refer to 24-4.1-303 C.R.S. for specifics.

The “Critical Stages” referred to in the law [24-4.1-302(2) C.R.S.] include the following stages of the criminal justice process:

  • The filing of charges
  • The preliminary hearing
  • Any bond reduction or modification hearing
  • Arraignment hearing
  • Disposition of the complaint or charges against the person accused
  • The trial
  • Sentencing hearing
  • Appellate review or appellate decision
  • Sentence reconsideration
  • Probation revocation hearing
  • The filing of a complaint, summons, or warrant by probation for failure to report or because location of a person convicted of a crime is unknown
  • Request for a change of venue or transfer probation supervision
  • Request for release from probation supervision prior to the expiration of original sentence
  • Attack of judgement or conviction
  • Parole application hearing
  • Parole, release, or discharge from imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime
  • Parole revocation hearing
  • Transfer to or placement of a person convicted of a crime in a non-secure facility
  • Transfer, release, or escape of a person charged with or convicted of a crime from any state hospital