In Idaho, victims have a set of rights that are to be honored during a investigation, prosecution or disposition of crime. What happens when those rights are not upheld?
One local man says he ran into that problem today and was left wondering, what are his rights as a victim?
“I was just standing there and I turned around to see where my wife was and he just suckered punch me in the stomach,” said 63-year-old Ernesto Casas.
This happened back in December. Casas filed charges against the man who hit him with city prosecutors.
“They gave me a letter to sign saying that I had the right of a victim,” said Casas.
It included that he was to be notified of all his hearings, his entitlement to be there and to be notified of any plea agreements.
However, when he was set for his hearing earlier today, Casas was told that the charges to the man had been dismissed on Tuesday. But Casas had never been told.
“They never bothered to call me, they never asked me anything,” Casas said. “They never got really my side of the story, and I have no idea what they went on – but evidently the letter they sent me didn’t mean anything.”
We tried reaching out to the city prosecution office for answers as to why Casas was not notified prior to this morning.
I was able to speak over the phone with Idaho Falls Assistant City Prosecutor, Cindy Campbell, who was not the prosecutor on Casas’ case, but was able explain the notification process.
“We always notify victims before we dismiss cases and they’re dismissed for various reasons, but I mean there’s always in the odd case I suppose that it doesn’t get done,” Campbell said. “But it’s our policy to notify the victims, sometimes they don’t like what we do but we’re kind of married to the facts of the case so to speak.”
Technically Casas was notified of the dismal as of this morning.
But when asked if there was a time frame for when the victim is supposed to be notified, Campbell replied “No.”
She said Casas will get to hear the reasons for the dismissal on Monday at a meeting.
“They get to have knowledge of the action taken on the case,” Campbell said. “And the reasons why and he’s been given an opportunity to meet with the person who did it when they get back from their conference that they’re at.”
But until Monday, Casas is still stuck left wondering what his rights as a victim are.
“Don’t give me this and then it means nothing, what does that mean I’m supposed to have some rights. Didn’t matter,” said Casas.