Crime Victim Rights (Youth & Young Adult Legal Issues Edition)


By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)

As a victim of a crime, you have certain rights to safety, privacy, and to tell your story. If your rights aren't being respected, a lawyer may be able to help.
Resource Information

What rights do I have as a victim of a crime?

  • You should be treated fairly during your participation in the investigation and the criminal proceeding.
  • Generally, your personal information, such as your full name, address, and place of work, is unavailable to the public.
  • You have the right to know when court proceedings are taking place.
  • You have a right to a copy of any papers filed in the criminal case.
  • You have a right to talk to the prosecutor about your case.
  • You have a right to be present for your proceedings.
  • You cannot be fired from your job for attending court.
  • The prosecutor must make arrangements with your school if you have to miss class or if you need extra help.
  • You have a right to tell your story and give your opinion about the offender’s sentence.
  • You DO NOT have to speak to the authorities unless a court requires it.

What limits apply to my rights?

  • You cannot demand law enforcement do its job differently or better.
  • You cannot determine what charges, if any, are filed against the offender.
  • You do not have a right to an attorney at public expense.
  • Your communications with law enforcement, the witness coordinator, and the county attorney are not private or protected.

What do I need to know about the justice system?

The legal structure in Montana is set up in three different systems. If you are victimized, you may interact with all three:

  1. Administrative – Administrative systems provide outside-of-the-courtroom resolutions. For example, you may have access to processes through the Human Rights Bureau, the Office of Victim Services, the Crime Victim Compensation Program, and others.
  2. Civil – You could file a lawsuit related to the offense. You could ask for a court order or protection from the offender, damages (money), or other forms of compensation.
  3. Criminal – The criminal justice system focuses on public safety.

These are the basic steps of the criminal justice system:

  • You report a crime to law enforcement.
  • Upon receiving a victim’s report, law enforcement may or may not investigate based upon the information provided.
  • If they investigate and find that a crime may have been committed, law enforcement refers the report to the county attorney to decide if charges should be brought.
  • If charges are brought, the State goes to court on behalf of the public good against the offender. The attorney representing the State does not represent you individually.

Learn more about the supportive services Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides on MTCrimeVictimHelp.org

Take Action


Legal Help

  • Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Apply for free legal help by calling 1-800-666-6899 or applying online.
  • Tribal community members may have additional ways of accessing justice within their tribal courts. If you are a tribal member living in a tribal community, contact MLSA to apply for free legal help on your specific situation at 1-800-666-6899 or by applying online.
  • Contact your nearest Self Help Law Center for free legal information and forms.

Legal Forms

Non-Legal Resources

  • The Youth Homelessness Development Project (YHDP) is designed to support Montana service providers in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness. More information is avaliable at the YHDP website.
  • County resource guides provide an up-to-date list of avaliable help centers.

Find more resources using our interactive Legal Guide.
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