Rights Listed in D.C. Code §16-2340
A juvenile charged with a criminal offense is called a respondent. Victims of and eyewitness to a criminal offense committed by a juvenile have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, sensitivity, and with respect for the victim’s or eyewitness’ privacy;
- Be notified in advance of dates and times of trials, disposition and post-disposition hearings;
- Have appropriate safeguards, before, during, and immediately after any court proceeding, to minimize any contact with the respondent, the respondent’s family, and the respondent’s witnesses, including a separate waiting area when possible.
- Be informed of and assisted with applications for financial assistance, criminal injuries compensation, and any other social services available for victims.
- Have property in the possession of law enforcement promptly returned unless otherwise needed for evidence.
- Be informed of the right to request restitution in appropriate cases.
- Submit a Victim Impact Statement in all cases and to have the statement considered in the disposition of the cases.
Right to Identification
- Victims and eyewitnesses have the right to know to whom they are speaking about the alleged criminal offenses.
- Attorneys and investigators working for the respondent are required to clearly identify themselves as working on the behalf of the respondent.
- If anyone attempts to speak with a victim, the victim’s family, or eyewitnesses without clearly identifying themself, the victim, family member, or eyewitness has the right to ask the person to provide sufficient identification for the victim to determine who they are working for.
- Once the person has identified themself, it is up to the victim, family member, or eye witness to decide if they want to speak to the person.
Right to Information
Juvenile matters are highly confidential and closed to the public. A juvenile charged with a criminal offense is called a respondent. With the understanding that they are not allowed to share the information with others, victims may be told:
- The respondent’s release status.
- The level of respondent’s placement.
- What stay-away orders were imposed.
- The respondent’s participation in diversion or a consent decree.
- The offenses charged in the petition.
- The terms of any plea agreements, findings, or verdicts related to the case
- The respondent’s commitment or probation status.
Right to Attend Hearings
No one who is testifying at trial is allowed to be present in the courtroom except during their own testimony, until all of the evidence is complete. Other than that restriction, victims and eyewitnesses and the immediate family members and custodians of victims and eyewitnesses have the right to attend transfer, factfinding, disposition, and post-disposition hearings. Victims and eyewitnesses also have the right to have their immediate family members and custodians present during their testimony provided the family members or custodians are not testifying themselves. Any person who attends a juvenile court hearing is bound by and must be informed of the confidentiality requirements of the proceeding and penalties for disclosing what occurred.