Your Rights as a Victim of a Crime

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In Michigan, victims of crimes have certain rights. These rights come from the Michigan Constitution, laws, and court and administrative rules. Victims have rights regardless of whether the crime was a felony or misdemeanor, or if the defendant is an adult or minor.

Who Is a Victim of Crime?

A victim is someone who suffers a direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm after a crime. A person is considered a victim even though the person alleged to have committed a crime against them has not been convicted. If a victim is physically or emotionally unable to exercise their rights, they can appoint a close family member to act in their place. Close family members can include the victim’s spouse, parent, adult child, or adult sibling. If the victim appoints someone, they need to tell the prosecutor in the case. Even if the victim appoints someone, victim notices required by law can only be sent to the victim.

Some victims’ rights may not be available to someone who is also charged with a crime related to the one the defendant is charged with. The rights of victims who are in jail or prison are also different.

The Right to Be Informed

After a victim reports a crime, law enforcement has 24 hours to give the victim information about their rights. Examples include information about:

  • Emergency and medical services
  • The right to apply for crime victim’s compensation and the address to the crime victim’s compensation board
  • The prosecuting attorney, including contact information and that this person may be able to go over the rights of crime victims in more detail (people may only get information about the elected prosecutor for their county, but a different assistant prosecutor may be in charge of their case)
  • How to be notified about arrests, a perpetrator’s release from jail, and other steps in the case, such as court dates
  • Victims of sexual assault also have a right to information about:
  • The contact information for local sexual assault services programs, if available
  • Sexual assault evidence kits, which are available free of charge to victims
  • The choice to have a sexual assault evidence kit done without being required to send the kit to police to initiate an investigation after the kit is done
  • Personal protection orders (PPOs)
  • Victims of domestic violence should also get the following information in writing from law enforcement:
  • The name and contact information for the police agency that responded to the call
  • The name and badge number of the responding officer
  • The contact information to local domestic violence shelters and other resources
  • That PPOs are available

The Michigan Department of Corrections has many resources for victims on its Victim Services website. Michigan Victim Information Notification Everyday (MI-VINE) has a brochure explaining how to register to get notified of a defendant’s release during the trial and other information.

During the trial, the prosecutor should tell the victim about trial procedures, remind them of their rights, and take their views and opinions into account when deciding how to resolve the case. Many cases end with a plea bargain. The prosecutor must consult with the victim before accepting a plea deal and before a jury is brought together for a trial on the case.

The Right to Be Involved in the Case

Crime victims have the right to be involved in the criminal case. This means their desires should have an impact on pretrial and trial procedures. This includes what restrictions may be included in a “no-contact” order that prevents the perpetrator from further abusive actions against them. They can talk about what they want when they meet with the prosecutor or a victim advocate. After a conviction or plea, victims can choose to give impact statements in court. These statements allow victims to explain how the crime has affected their lives. Victims can also provide information about any financial costs they have that may qualify them for restitution. Victims can choose to read these statements during the sentencing hearing of a convicted defendant or during parole hearings.

Although victims have a right to be informed and involved, the prosecutor makes the final decisions about case strategy. The prosecutor also makes the final decisions about whether any person will be charged with a crime, and what crime to charge them with.

The Right to Privacy

Crime victims have privacy rights throughout the criminal justice process. This can include protecting identifying information about the victim. Some examples of information include the victim’s address or place of employment. This may also include disclosure of the crime victim’s medical records. If a victim feels comfortable sharing this information, it still should not be part of the court file or any public court document.

The Right to Protection

Victims have the right to be reasonably protected from the defendant throughout the criminal justice process. The judge should consider the victim’s safety when releasing certain people from jail who are charged with assault, battery, and other violent offenses. The judge should consider the safety issues involved with a crime when making this decision. Victims may talk to the prosecutor or the victim advocate in the prosecutor’s office about the victim’s safety concerns before a bond hearing occurs. Bond hearings often occur very soon after an arrest.

Even if someone charged with a crime is released, a judge can set conditions designed to keep the victim safe. An example is a “no-contact” order. This type of order could prevent a perpetrator from:

  • Coming to a crime victim’s home, work, or school
  • Contacting the crime victim by phone, email, mail or other written communication, or through another person like a friend or family member.

The Michigan Department of Corrections has many resources for victims on its Victim Services website. Michigan Victim Information Notification Everyday (MI-VINE) has a brochure explaining how to register to get notified of a defendant’s release during the trial and other information.

Victims also have a right to minimize potential contact with the defendant, their family members, and their witnesses. Wherever possible, courts should provide victims with a separate waiting area in court during proceedings.  If another waiting area is not possible, then courts should make other arrangements to limit unwanted contact.

The Right to Restitution and Crime Victim Compensation


A judge must decide the dollar amount a defendant is ordered to pay the victim within seven days of the sentencing hearing. This is known as restitution. After a conviction, a victim (or their estate) is entitled to restitution. The amount of restitution depends on the specific facts of their case. Restitution is money paid by a perpetrator to a crime victim that is meant to cover any financial losses that resulted from the crime. This may include medical or therapy bills, loss of employment income due to lost work, and destruction of property. Restitution from a criminal case can be converted into a civil judgment for collection.

Crime Victim Compensation

The Crime Victim Compensation program helps people who were physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed because of a crime. Crime Victim Compensation is separate from restitution. You may be able to get Crime Victim Compensation even if the perpetrator cannot pay restitution or is not convicted.

The program may cover costs directly related to a crime, including:

  • medical treatment, counseling, and alternative therapies
  • lost wages
  • relocation and cleanup costs
  • funeral costs and grief services

For more information, go to What Costs May Be Covered.

You must apply within 5 years of the crime that caused the harm. There are organizations that help people get Crime Victim Compensation, or you can apply on your own. To learn more about applying and organizations that can help, go to the Resources for Crime Victims section below. You may also find more organizations that can help by visiting the Community Services page. 

The Right to File a Civil Case Against the Defendant

If the crime the defendant committed is also a cause of action for a civil suit, then the crime victim can sue the defendant in civil court. Common examples of crimes that are also civil causes of action are assault and battery. Crime victims also have the right to request a Personal Protection Order (PPO) in civil court to protect themselves from further harm by the defendant.   There do not need to be criminal charges brought against a perpetrator for a crime victim to bring a civil case. To learn more about suing someone or requesting a PPO, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.

What Can I Do if My Rights Are Violated?

Victims will be in the best position to protect their crime victims’ rights if they communicate often with the prosecutor’s office victim advocate. They should also connect with local victim services agencies that can also support them along the way. If a victim feels that one of their rights is not being respected, then they should ask the prosecutor’s office or victim advocate about it. They can also seek legal representation.

After their rights have been violated, crime victims do not have the right to sue agencies, entities, or their employees under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act for money damages. Below are some alternative actions that a crime victim whose rights have been violated may take against courts, law enforcement agencies, or their employees.

File a Writ of Mandamus Action

This action is only available against state officers who are not judges. A writ of mandamus directs a person to perform their duties as required by law. A writ of mandamus cannot be used to force an officer to do something that is discretionary, or optional. 

A writ of mandamus must be filed with the Michigan Court of the Appeals or the Court of Claims. The court will issue the writ only if all of the following are true:

  • The person seeking the writ has a clear legal right to the performance of the act
  • The defendant (the officer) has a clear legal duty to perform the act
  • The act is not discretionary, meaning the officer doesn’t have a choice
  • There is no other remedy (action) that would achieve the same result

A writ of mandamus is an “extraordinary remedy.” This means it is not given often because the requirements are so strict. If you want to file a writ of mandamus, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.

File a Writ for Superintending Control of Lower Court

A writ of superintending control corrects a lower court’s failure to perform a clear legal duty. A court will not issue this type of writ if the person seeking the writ is claiming the lower court judge abused their discretion. If an appeal is available to the person seeking the writ, the court will not issue the writ. However, if an appeal is available but would not be adequate, then the writ could be issued.

If you want to file this type of writ, you may want to speak with a lawyer who could help. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.

File a Judicial Grievance

If a judge engages in misconduct, they can be disciplined. The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (MJTC) is in charge of disciplining judges. Some examples of misconduct are:

  • Persistent failure to perform judicial duties
  • Persistent incompetence or neglect
  • Persistent failure to treat persons fairly, with courtesy and respect
  • Violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct

Anyone with a complaint about a judge can file a grievance in writing with MJTC. MJTC reviews all grievances and decides whether to open an investigation. To learn more about the process, read How to File a Grievance on the MJTC website.

MJTC can issue a written reprimand or file a formal complaint with the Michigan Supreme Court. Only the Michigan Supreme Court can sanction a judge. Sanctions can include censure, suspension with or without pay, and removal from office.

The number of grievance cases where a judge is reprimanded is very low. If you want to grieve a judge, you may want to speak with an experienced lawyer who could help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.

File a Grievance Against a Lawyer

Any lawyer involved in a criminal case, such as the prosecutor or defense lawyer, can be investigated for misconduct. To start the investigation process against a lawyer, you can complete the Request for Investigation form or write a letter describing the misconduct and send it to the Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC). To learn more about this process, review How to File a Request for an Investigation on the AGC website.

Resources for Crime Victims

The Crime Victim Compensation program helps people who were physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed because of a crime. There is a 5-year deadline to apply. For more information, visit Crime Victim Compensation or call the Victims-Only Toll-Free Helpline at 877-251-7373. To apply on your own, go to Applying for Compensation. The organizations below can also help with Crime Victim Compensation in some cases. 

The Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project (CVLAP) is a statewide program with lawyers across Michigan. CVLAP provides free legal help to clients who have experienced domestic violence and to clients who are at least 55 years old and have experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation. To learn more or to find a CVLAP lawyer in your area, visit the CVLAP website.

The Survivor Law Clinic of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence (“MCEDSV”) helps survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The Clinic provides legal representation to victims to help them enforce their rights. They also provide educational materials, trainings, and technical support to help victims. You can find their contact information on their website.