The Utah State Legislature has passed a number of provisions to afford victims the rights they deserve. In 1994, a Victim’s Rights Amendment was added to the state constitution.
In Utah, victims of crime have rights that are protected by law. Some of these rights are complicated and difficult to fully explain. If you have any questions about your rights, contact your victim advocate or call the statewide toll-free rape crisis and information line at 1.888.421.1100.
A summary of the Victim’s Rights Amendment is as follows (Utah Code 77-38):
- Victims have the right to be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice process.
- Victims have the right, upon request, to be informed of, be present at, and to be heard at important criminal justice hearings related to the victim, either in person or through a designated representative.
- The rights apply to important criminal justice proceedings which are defined as: preliminary hearings; arraignments; disposition of charges; conditions of release/bail hearings; trials; sentencing and parole hearings.
- These provisions apply to all felonies in adult courts. In cases involving juvenile offenders, victims have the right to attend and speak at juvenile proceedings for offenses that are comparable in adult court.
- Victims have the right to reasonable employer intercession services to minimize loss of pay and benefits.
- Victims have the right to be informed as to the level of protection available to protect them from intimidation and harm.
- Victims have the right to a secure waiting area that does not require them to be in close proximity to defendants and offenders.
- Victims have a right to privacy and should not be forced to disclose their address, telephone number, place of employment, or other locating information, without compelling reason.
- Victims have the right to have a sentencing judge, for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence, receive and consider reliable information concerning the background, character, and conduct of those convicted.
- Victims have the right to reparations and restitution when appropriate.
- Victims have a right to a speedy trial and disposition of charges.
Additional Rights for Children
- The right to have interviews relating to a criminal prosecution kept to a minimum.
- The right to be questioned in a manner that is appropriate to the child’s age and understanding.
- The right not to be questioned in a manner that implies they are responsible for the inappropriate behavior of adults.
- The right to protection from physical and emotional abuse during their involvement with the criminal justice process.
- The right to be informed of available community resources and how to gain access to those resources.
Rape Shield Rule (Utah rule 412):
In the event of a trial, Utah’s Rape Shield Rule may prohibit the admission into evidence aspects of a victim’s past sexual behavior, sexual predisposition, or reputation.
The Rape Shield Rule safeguards victims of sexual assault from some level of embarrassment, invasion of privacy, and sexual stereotyping that may result from unnecessary public disclosure of general reputation or prior sexual acts.
When cases proceed to court, a survivor’s past should and can be protected in the court. However, Utah’s Rape Shield Rule, like most statutes that seek to protect victims, are not applicable to the media. This can result in a violation of the survivor’s privacy outside of the courtroom. As a matter of professional courtesy, most newspaper and broadcast media do not disclose the name of an alleged rape victim (the complaining witness) during the trial. If the alleged rapist is convicted, most media will continue to protect the identity of the victim.