Towards the Victim Participation Model in the Criminal Procedure: A Study on the Victims’ Rights Development in the Law of the United States of America

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Erbaş R.

Ceza Hukuku ve Kriminoloji Dergisi (CHKD), vol.3, no.1, pp.75-118, 2015 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


The participation of victims in criminal proceedings is a controversial issue which lies at the core of the understanding of criminal procedure law. According to the criminal procedure approach of the United States of America and Turkey, the crime is mainly committed against the public not the individual, therefore, only the public prosecutor has a right to decide whether or not to prosecute. British criminal law, despite its role as the origin of U.S. common law, takes the opposite approach in which the individual is also entitled to initiate a public case before the court as well as public prosecutor, which is called as private prosecutionAlso, whereas the charged or the accused has rights ensured by the United State Constitution, the victim of crime has no rights, a fact that has been criticized. The critics arguing that victims have a limited participation in the criminal proceeding has led to a new approach to provide the victims with new rights in criminal procedure.

The Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (18 U.S.C. § 3771, shortly referred as CVRA)” gives victims certain rights to participate in criminal proceedings. These rights resemble the rights listed in the “Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power of 1985” by the United Nation of which Turkey is a member. Therefore, to understand victims’ rights in the CVRA may be helpful for Turkish criminal law to understand the rights defined by the United Nation. In that respect, this study focuses on the rights regulated in the “CVRA” and their application in the case law. Before that, the history of these rights has been put across in the light of the case called Linda R. S. v. Richard D and the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982. This study aims to show how victim participation in criminal procedure has been regularly increased throughout the history in the United States of America and to open a new window for Turkish criminal law into the awareness of the victim participation in criminal procedure which is today on the rise.

Key words: Crime victims, rights of victim, the role of victims, the United States of America, criminal proceeding, participation to the criminal trial, victim impact statements.