CITIZENS & THE LAW:

Court Clarifies Procedures of ‘Victims’ Rights’ Laws

The Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center, Inc. is praising recent actions of the Rules Committee of the Maryland Court of Appeals. These clarifications stipulate what constitutes compliance regarding the state’s so-called “victims’ rights” laws.

Changes to the Maryland Rules of Procedure include:

  1. Plea Bargaining: Under Rule 4-243, a condition of a plea bargain will include the required notice to a victim.
  2. Notification verification by the Court: Under Rules 4-342 and 4-343, the court shall determine whether the notification requirements to victims have been satisfied.
  3. Restitution transmittal to correctional facilities.ƯUnder Rule 4-351, the Court of the Clerk is required to send, as part of the offender’s commitment record, any obligation to pay restitution.

Prior to these changes, victims were often unaware of their rights regarding plea bargaining and addressing a court or jury at sentencing proceedings. Judges will now affirmatively be required at plea bargains and sentencing hearings to assure compliance of victims’ rights laws.


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This story was published on March 5, 2003.