Bill of Rights
Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with
fairness, dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and to be
informed, to be present and to be heard, when authorized by law, during public
§ 99-43-1. Short title and
This chapter may be cited as the "Mississippi
Crime Victims' Bill of Rights." The purpose of this chapter is to ensure the
fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, to increase the
effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording rights and
considerations to the victims of crime, and to preserve and protect victims'
rights to justice and fairness in the criminal justice system.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 1, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-3. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following words shall
have the meanings ascribed to them, unless the context clearly requires
(a) "Accused" means a person who has been arrested for committing a criminal
offense and who is held for an initial appearance or other proceeding before
trial or who is a target of an investigation for committing a criminal offense.
(b) "Appellate proceeding" means an oral argument held in open court before the
Mississippi Court of Appeals, the Mississippi Supreme Court, a federal court of
appeals or the United States Supreme Court.
(c) "Arrest" means the actual custodial restraint of a person or his submission
(d) "Community status" means extension of the limits of the places of
confinement of a prisoner through work release, intensive supervision, house
arrest, and initial consideration of pre-discretionary leave, passes and
(e) "Court" means all state courts including juvenile courts.
(f) "Victim assistance coordinator" means a person who is employed or authorized
by a public entity or a private entity that receives public funding primarily to
provide counseling, treatment or other supportive assistance to crime victims.
(g) "Criminal offense" means conduct that gives a law enforcement officer or
prosecutor probable cause to believe that a felony involving physical injury,
the threat of physical injury, or a sexual offense, or any offense involving
spousal abuse, domestic violence or burglary of a dwelling house has been
(h) "Criminal proceeding" means a hearing, argument or other matter scheduled by
and held before a trial court but does not include a lineup, grand jury
proceeding or other matter not held in the presence of the court.
(i) "Custodial agency" means a municipal or county jail, the Department of
Corrections, juvenile detention facility, Department of Youth Services or a
secure mental health facility having custody of a person who is arrested or is
in custody for a criminal offense.
(j) "Defendant" means a person or entity that is formally charged by complaint,
indictment or information of committing a criminal offense.
(k) "Final disposition" means the ultimate termination of the criminal
prosecution of a defendant by a trial court, including dismissal, acquittal or
imposition of a sentence.
(l) "Immediate family" means the spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent or
guardian of the victim, unless that person is in custody for an offense or is
(m) "Lawful representative" means a person who is a member of the immediate
family or who is designated as provided in Section 99-43-5; no person in custody
for an offense or who is the accused may serve as lawful representative.
(n) "Post-arrest release" means the discharge of the accused from confinement on
recognizance, bond or other condition.
(o) "Post-conviction release" means parole, or discharge from confinement by an
agency having custody of the prisoner.
(p) "Post-conviction relief proceeding" means a hearing, argument or other
matter that is held in any court and that involves a request for relief from a
conviction, sentence or adjudication.
(q) "Prisoner" means a person who has been convicted or adjudicated of a
criminal offense against a victim and who has been sentenced to the custody of
the sheriff, the Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Services,
juvenile detention facility, a municipal jail or a secure mental health
(r) "Prosecuting attorney" means the district attorney, county prosecuting
attorney, municipal prosecuting attorney, youth court prosecuting attorney,
special prosecuting attorney or Attorney General.
(s) "Right" means any right granted to the victim by the laws of this state.
(t) "Victim" means a person against whom the criminal offense has been
committed, or if the person is deceased or incapacitated, the lawful
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 2, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-5. Designated and lawful representatives.
(1) If a victim is physically or emotionally
unable to exercise any right established by this chapter, but is able to
designate in writing a lawful representative, the designated representative or
person may exercise the same rights that the victim is entitled to exercise. The
victim may revoke his or her designated representation at any time and
thereafter personally exercise his or her rights.
(2) If a victim is incompetent, deceased or otherwise incapable of designating
another person to act in his or her behalf, the court may appoint a lawful
representative who is not a witness in the case. If at any time the victim is no
longer incompetent, incapacitated, or otherwise incapable of acting, the victim
may personally exercise his or her rights.
(3) If the victim is a minor, the parent, guardian or other immediate family of
the victim, or a designated representative as determined by the court, may
exercise all of the rights of the victim on behalf of the victim.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 3, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-7. Law enforcement
Unless the victim is unavailable or incapacitated
as a result of the crime, within seventy-two (72) hours after the law
enforcement agency becomes responsible for investigating the crime, the law
enforcement agency shall provide to the victim in a manner and form prescribed
by the Attorney General the following information:
(a) The availability of emergency and crisis services.
(b) The availability of victims' compensation benefits and the name, address and
telephone number of the victim compensation hearing officer.
(c) The name of the law enforcement officer and telephone number of the law
enforcement agency with the following statement attached: "If within sixty (60)
days you are not notified of an arrest in your case, you may call the telephone
number of the law enforcement agency for the status of the case."
(d) The procedural steps involved in a criminal prosecution.
(e) The rights authorized by the Mississippi Constitution on rights of victims,
including a form to invoke these rights.
(f) The existence of and eligibility requirements for restitution and
compensation pursuant to Section 99-37-1 et seq. and Section 99-41-1 et seq.,
Mississippi Code of 1972.
(g) A recommended procedure if the victim is subjected to threats or
(h) The name and telephone number of the office of the prosecuting attorney to
contact for further information.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 4, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-9. Prosecutor notice
requirements upon written request of victim.
(1) Upon written request of the victim, the
prosecuting attorney shall notify the victim of all charges filed against the
defendant and any criminal proceedings, other than initial appearances, as soon
as practicable, including any changes that may occur.
(2) In order to be entitled to receive notice under this section, the victim
shall provide to and maintain with the office of the prosecuting attorney a
request for notice which shall include the telephone number and address of the
victim. The request for notice shall be considered withdrawn and void in the
event the victim fails to update this information as necessary. Except as
otherwise provided, all notices provided to a victim pursuant to this chapter
shall be on forms as specified by the Attorney General.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 5, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
Prosecutor's duty to confer with victim prior to disposition.
The prosecuting attorney shall confer with the
victim prior to the final disposition of a criminal offense, including the views
of the victim about a nol pros, reduction of charge, sentence recommendation,
and pre-trial diversion programs.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 6, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-13. Prosecutor's duty to confer with
victim prior to trial; confidentiality.
The prosecuting attorney shall confer with the
victim before the commencement of a trial. Any information received by the
victim relating to the substance of the case shall be confidential, unless
otherwise authorized by law or required by the courts to be disclosed.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 7, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-15. Trial transcripts; right to receive
if pay costs.
The victim has the right to receive a transcript
of any criminal proceedings at his own cost.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 8, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-17. Victim not entitled to direct
prosecution of case.
The rights of the victim do not include the
authority to direct the prosecution of the case.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 9, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-19. Freedom from delay; continuances.
The victim shall have the right to a final
disposition of the criminal proceeding free from unreasonable delay. To
effectuate this right, the court, in determining whether to grant any
continuance, should make every reasonable effort to consider whether granting
such continuance shall be prejudicial to the victim.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 10, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-21. Right to be present at criminal
The victim has the right to be present throughout
all criminal proceedings as defined in Section 99-43-1.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 11, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-23. Separate waiting area; minimizing
contact with defendant, defendant's relatives and defense witnesses.
The court shall provide a waiting area for the
victim separate from the defendant, relatives of the defendant, and defense
witnesses, if an area is available and the use of the area is practical. If a
separate waiting area is not available, or its use impractical, the court shall
minimize contact of the victim with the defendant, relatives of the defendant,
and defense witnesses during court proceedings.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 12, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-25. Victim residence and identification
information; petition, hearing and confidentiality.
(1) Based upon the reasonable apprehension of the
victim of acts or threats of physical violence or intimidation by the defendant,
the family of the defendant, or by anyone at the direction of the defendant,
against the victim or the immediate family of the victim, the prosecutor may
petition the court to direct that the victim or any other witness not be
compelled to testify during pre-trial proceedings or in any trial, facts that
could divulge the identity, residence, or place of employment of the victim, or
other related information, without consent of the victim unless necessary to the
prosecution of the criminal proceeding. If the court schedules a hearing on the
merits of the petition, it shall be held in camera.
(2) The address, phone number, place of employment, and other related
information about the victim contained in the prosecuting attorney's file shall
not be public record.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 13, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-27. Negotiated plea agreements; notice
The victim has the right to be present at any
proceeding at which a negotiated plea for the person accused of committing the
criminal offense against the victim will be presented to the court. The court
shall not accept a plea agreement unless: (a) The prosecuting attorney advises
the court that, before requesting the negotiated plea, reasonable efforts were
made to confer with the victim. (b) Reasonable efforts were made to give the
victim notice of the plea proceeding, including the offense to which the
defendant will plead guilty, the date that the plea will be presented to the
court, the terms of any sentence agreed to as part of the negotiated plea, and
that the victim has the right to be present.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 14, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-29. Notice regarding disposition and
The prosecuting attorney shall provide to the
victim the date of a conviction, acquittal, or dismissal of the charges filed
against the defendant and prior to sentencing, when applicable, notice of the
(a) The criminal offense for which the defendant was convicted, acquitted, or
the effect of a dismissal of the charges filed against the defendant.
(b) If the defendant is convicted, on request, the victim shall be notified, if
applicable, of the following:
(i) The existence and function of the pre-sentence report.
(ii) The name, address, and telephone number of the office which is preparing
the pre-sentence report.
(iii) The right to make a victim impact statement.
(iv) The right of the defendant to view the pre-sentence report.
(v) The right to be present and be heard at any sentencing proceeding.
(vi) The time, place and date of the sentencing proceeding.
(vii) If the court orders restitution, the right to pursue collection of the
restitution as provided by Section 99-37-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 15, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-31. Victim impact statements to
probation officers; duty to consider victim impact.
The victim may submit a written impact statement
or make an oral impact statement to the probation officer for use in preparing a
pre-sentence report. The probation officer shall consider the economic,
physical, and psychological impact that the criminal offense has had on the
victim and the immediate family of the victim.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 16, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-33. Victim impact statements during
The victim has the right to present an impact
statement or information that concerns the criminal offense or the sentence
during any entry of a plea of guilty, sentencing or restitution proceeding.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 17, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-35. Post-arrest release or escape and
The victim has the right to the following
(a) As soon as practicable after the date of sentencing, the office of the
prosecuting attorney shall notify the victim of the sentence imposed on the
(b) The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the appropriate agencies and
departments to whom request for notice should be provided.
(c) The status of any post-conviction court review or appellate proceeding or
any decisions arising from those proceedings shall be furnished to the victim by
the Office of the Attorney General or the office of the district attorney,
whichever is appropriate, within five (5) business days after the status is
(d) If the terms and conditions of a post-arrest release include a requirement
that the accused post a bond, the sheriff or municipal jailer shall, upon
request, notify the victim of the release on bond of the defendant.
(e) The agency having physical custody of a prisoner shall, if provided a
request for notice, and as soon as practicable, give notice to the victim of the
escape and, subsequently, the return of the prisoner into custody.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 18, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-37. Presence at court proceedings; oral
or written statements by victim.
It is the discretion of the victim to exercise the
right to be present and heard, where authorized by law, at a court proceeding.
The absence of the victim at the proceeding of the court does not preclude the
court from going forward with the proceeding. The right of the victim to be
heard may be exercised, where authorized by law, at the discretion of the
victim, through an oral statement or submission of a written statement.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 19, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-39. Return and release of victims'
(1) Prior to the admission into evidence by the
court, on request of the victim, after consultation and written approval by the
prosecuting attorney, the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating
the criminal offense shall return to the victim any property belonging to the
victim that was taken during the course of the investigation, or shall inform
the victim of the reasons why the property will not be returned. The law
enforcement agency shall make reasonable efforts to return the property to the
victim as soon as possible.
(2) If the property of the victim has been admitted as evidence during a trial
or hearing, the court may, upon request of the prosecuting attorney, order its
release to the victim if a photograph can be substituted. If evidence is
released pursuant to this subsection, the attorney for the defendant or
investigator may inspect and independently photograph the evidence before it is
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 20, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-41. Custodial agency notice
Any custodial agency having physical custody of
the prisoner, if provided a request for notice, shall mail to the victim the
(a) Within fifteen (15) days prior to the end of the sentence of the prisoner,
notice of release upon expiration of sentence or notice of medical release.
(b) Within fifteen (15) days after the prisoner has died, notice of the death.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 21, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-43. Victim statement or recording for
Department of Corrections records; notice regarding parole or pardon
(1) Upon written request, the victim shall have
the right to be notified that he or she may submit a written statement, or audio
or video recording, which shall be entered into the prisoner's Department of
Corrections records. The statement or recording shall be considered during any
review for community status of the prisoner or prior to release of the prisoner.
(2) The victim shall have the right to be notified and allowed to submit a
written or recorded statement when parole or pardon is considered.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 22, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-45. Testimony and preparation for
criminal proceeding free from threat or fear of losing employment.
The victim shall respond to a subpoena to testify
in a criminal proceeding or participate in the reasonable preparation of
criminal proceeding without loss of employment, intimidation or threat or fear
of the loss of employment.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 23, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-47. Prosecutor assertion of victims'
The prosecuting attorney may assert any right to
which the victim is entitled.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 24, eff from and after January 1, 1999.
§ 99-43-49. Failure to provide victim's right;
effect; reasonable attempts to provide notice.
The failure to provide a right, privilege or
notice to a victim under this chapter shall not be grounds for the defendant to
seek to have the conviction or sentence set aside, and any reasonable attempt to
provide notice shall satisfy the requirements of this chapter.
Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 577, § 25, eff from and after January 1, 1999.