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Comparison of Defendants' and Victims' Rights in the
 U.S. Constitution


And answers to typical statements and arguments from the opposition



Rights Granted to Defendants Under
 the United States Constitution


(1) “The writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended” (Art. I, Sec. 8)


(2) “No bill of attainer…shall be passed” (Art. I, Sec. 8)


(3) “No…ex post facto law shall be passed” (Art. I, Sec. 8)


(4) “The President…shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States” (Art. II, Sec. 2)


(5) “The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury” (Art. III,  Sec. 2; Amend. VI)


(6) “Such trial shall be held in the state where the said crime shall have been committed” (Art. III, Sec. 2)


(7) “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to  the same overt act, or on confession in open court” (Art. III, Sec. 3)


(8) “No warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (Amend. IV)


(9) “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger” (Amend. V)


(10) “No person shall…be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” (Amend. V)


(11) “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against  himself” (Amend. V)


(12) “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”  (Amend. V)


(13) “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a public and speedy trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law”  (Amend. VI)


(14) “The accused shall have the right…to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” (Amend. VI)


(15) “The accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him”  (Amend. VI)


(16) “The accused shall enjoy the right…to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor” (Amend. VI)


(17) “The accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his  defense”  (Amend. VI)


(18) “No fact tried by a jury shall be reexamined by any court of the United States (Amend. VII)


(19) “Excessive bail shall not be required” (Amend. VIII)


(20) “Excessive fines [shall not be] imposed” (Amend. VIII)


(21) “Cruel and unusual punishment [shall not be] inflicted (Amend. VIII)


(22) “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” (Amend. XIV)


(23) “No state shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amend. XIV)

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Rights Granted to Victims Under the United States Constitution




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Rights That Would Be Granted to Victims Under H.J. Res 40
Introduced on April 23, 2013
by Reps. Trent Franks, Jim Costa and Edward Royce


Section 1. The rights of a crime victim to fairness, respect, and dignity, being capable of protection without denying the constitutional rights of the accused, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State. The crime victim shall, moreover, have the rights to reasonable notice of, and shall not be excluded from, public proceedings relating to the offense, to be heard at any release, plea, sentencing, or other such proceeding involving any right established by this article, to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, to reasonable notice of the release or escape of the accused, to due consideration of the crime victim's safety and privacy, and to restitution. The crime victim or the crime victim's lawful representative has standing to fully assert and enforce these rights in any court. Nothing in this article provides grounds for a new trial or any claim for damages and no person accused of the conduct described in section 2 of this article may obtain any form of relief.

Section 2. For purposes of this article, a crime victim includes any person against whom the criminal offense is committed or who is directly and proximately harmed by the commission of an act, which, if committed by a competent adult, would constitute a crime.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within 14 years after the date of its submission to the States by the Congress. This article shall take effect on the 180th day after the date of its ratification.


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Following are typical and possible statements and arguments from the opposition of the Proposed Amendment to the U. S. Constitution to Protect the Rights of Victims.


We have supplied factual and true answers:


If they (the opposition to the Amendment) say:



We have tried state and federal statutes for more than three decades and they don't work. As long as defendant's rights are in the U.S. Constitution and victims are not, the victims are second-class citizens.  Why do you believe the rights of the criminal should carry more weight than the rights of the victim?

If they say:



Would the Senator say that defendant's rights don't belong in the U.S. Constitution for the same reason?  Why are constitutional rights for defendants not a violation of federalism, or an invasion of state's rights, but constitutional rights for victims are?  Federalism exists to preserve liberty, not power for state government.  Putting rights into the U.S. Constitution advances the cause of liberty.


If they say:



None of the rights proposed in any way undermines any constitutional right of a defendant. A defendant has no constitutional right to prevent notice to victims, to keep them out of the courtroom, to silence them at a release, plea or sentencing hearings, to deny them safety or restitution, or to force them to endure endless delays.  



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