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1 Jefri Wood, The Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004 and the Federal Courts (Revised June 2, 2008) 1 (2008)

handle is hein.congcourts/crvafec0001 and id is 1 raw text is: The Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004 and the Federal Courts
Jefri Wood
Federal Judicial Center, June 2, 2008*
1. Overview of the Act, 1
11. Benchbook Sections Affected by the CVRA, 2
111. Other Issues That May Arise Under the CVRA, 7
IV. Case Summaries, 11
V. Text of 18 U.S.C. § 3771, 28
I. Overview of the Act
As part of the Justice For All Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-405, 118 Stat. 2260
(effective Oct. 30, 2004), victims of federal crimes were given significantly ex-
panded rights in the Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna
Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA). The CVRA set forth
these rights in newly enacted 18 U.S.C. § 3771, which also placed on the federal
courts a duty to ensure that victims are afforded those rights. Section 3771 effec-
tively replaces 42 U.S.C. § 10606 (Victims' Rights), now repealed by the
CVRA, which included a list of victims' rights but did not provide any means of
Among the rights given to victims by the CVRA are the right to be present at
public court proceedings involving the crime, section 3771(a)(2) and (3), and the
right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involv-
ing release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding, section 3771(a)(4). Up to
now, victims have had a right to be heard only in limited circumstances. For ex-
ample, Fed. R. Crim. P. 32(i)(4)(B) allows any victim of a crime of violence or
sexual abuse who is present at sentencing . .. to speak or submit any information
about the sentence. (Note: Effective Dec. 1, 2008, a proposed amendment to Fed.
R. Crim. P. 32(i)(4)(B) states that the sentencing court must address any victim
of the crime who is present at sentencing and must permit the victim to be rea-
sonably heard.)
As did the prior statute, the CVRA directs Department of Justice personnel
(and personnel of other agencies, as appropriate) to make their best efforts to see
that crime victims are notified of, and accorded, the rights described in subsection
(a). Section 3771(c)(1). However, under section 3771(d)(1), crime victims are
now authorized to assert those rights independently. In addition, the federal dis-
trict courts themselves are now directed, [i]n any court proceeding involving an
offense against a crime victim, [to] ensure that the crime victim is afforded the
rights described in subsection (a). 18 U.S.C. § 3771(b)(1).
*This document will be updated periodically as warranted by additional case law or legislative
changes. Readers should check the Center's website on the courts' intranet at cwn.fjc.dcn to be
sure they have the most current version.
This publication was undertaken in furtherance of the Center's statutory mission to conduct
and stimulate research and development for the improvement of judicial administration. The views
expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Federal Judicial Center.


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