Do Crime Victims Have a Right to Privacy in California?

A loss of privacy can feel like an additional victimization after a crime

Do Crime Victims Have a Right to Privacy in California?

Being the victim of a crime can be an incredibly traumatic experience. Even if the crime was nonviolent, such as identity theft, it can still feel like a massive violation — and make you feel unsafe. While bringing the perpetrator to justice is a good thing, it can also result in a loss of privacy — which can be an additional trauma.

In California, victims of crimes have specific rights. This includes the right to be treated with fairness and respect for their privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice process. Because prosecutors represent the people of the state of California — not the victim — it may be difficult to enforce those rights. An Irvine crime victims attorney can advocate for you to ensure that these and other rights are protected.

There are many ways that your lawyer can do this for you. For example, depending on the facts of the case, you may be able to have a pseudonym used, rather than your full name. This is incredibly important in the age of the internet, where having your name publicly associated with a crime can leaving a trail that can’t be erased.

An Irvine crime victims attorney can also work to prevent the disclosure of private information in a criminal case. The defendant’s attorney may issue what is known as a subpoena duces tecum to request documents from you or even a medical or mental health care provider. A lawyer can assert your constitutional right as a crime victim to refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request from the defendant.

In situations where the crime occurred at your home, your attorney may be able to prevent the defendant from accessing it. The defendant and/or his lawyer may want to go into your home as part of their investigation or defense strategy. In California, unless there is a specific, plausible reason for a defendant’s team to be inside of your house, a victim’s fundamental right to privacy in her home cannot be overcome.

In the era of COVID-19, another issue related to privacy has become even more important. Cameras in the courtroom were often only a factor in high profile or sensational cases. Now that many courthouses have restricted access due to the pandemic, more court hearings and trials are being performed over video. Your right to privacy may be unfairly invaded if your testimony is broadcast over the internet. An Irvine crime victims attorney can advocate for you and argue that the court should use a method such as obscuring your image to protect your privacy.

It is important to remember that while crime victims have constitutional rights in California, these rights aren’t automatic. In many cases, unless you affirmatively assert your rights, you may not be protected. An experienced Irvine crime victims attorney can help to ensure that your privacy is shielded as much as possible under California law, and will work to protect your other rights as well.

At Justice 4 Crime Victims, we are dedicated to helping people who have been victims of crimes in California. We advocate for our clients, standing by their side to make an already difficult process a little easier. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, contact us today at 949-585-9055 or