In 1992, Colorado joined four other states (Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, and New Mexico) in adding a crime victims’s rights amendment to the state constitution. In looking at the history of the crime victims’ rights movement and Honoring the Past, we may change the face of the landscape and work toward Creating Hope for the Future.
On April 22nd, 1991, the President of the United States announced Proclamation 6275, declaring the week of April 21st through April 27th National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. In this proclamation, the President urged “all Americans to join in honoring those who work in behalf of crime victims and their families”. At the start of this same week, Colorado legislators presented an amendment for the Colorado constitution to include victims’ rights, which was collectively passed by both state Houses. The bill for the amendment was placed on the ballot for 1992, and passed by voters on November 3rd that year. This established the Colorado Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which went into effect as of January 14th, 1993.
The Colorado Crime Victims’ Rights Act (VRA) amendment states:
Any person who is a victim of a criminal act or 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 the general assembly (Article II, Section l6A Colorado State Constitution).
Further, the amendment specifies which crimes fall under the Colorado VRA, including domestic violence, sexual assault, murder, and robbery. (for a full list of the VRA covered crimes, click here). Under the Colorado VRA, victims are granted the following core rights:
- To be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity;
- To be informed of all “critical stages” of the criminal justice process (victims must request notification, in writing, for post-sentencing critical stages); and,
- To be present and heard at specified critical stages in the criminal justice process.
Per the VRA, specific agencies within the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and probation, are charged with various responsibilities to the victims of crime, relevant to the stages of the victim’s case. If these rights are not upheld, a victim may choose to file a complaint to the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice. In upholding the VRA, identifying gaps in protections, and working within the community to improve services for victims of violent crime, we can create hope to improve the future for victim’s of violent crime across the country, and across the world.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of violent crime, or is interested in learning more about the Colorado Crime Victims’ Rights Act, feel free to contact AVRC!
415 Colorado Avenue
La Junta, CO 81050
24 Hour Hotline: (719) 384-7764
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656
Information and quote on Proclamation 6275 provided by https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-105/pdf/STATUTE-105-Pg2522.pdf
Video and National VRA history provided by https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw2019/
Colorado VRA history and information provided by https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dcj/victim-rights