Victims' Rights in Criminal Trials: Prospects for Participation

23 Pages Posted: 21 May 2005

See all articles by Jonathan Doak

Jonathan Doak

Durham University - Law School


Victims in common law jurisdictions have traditionally been unable to participate in criminal trials for a number of structural and normative reasons. They are widely perceived as 'private parties' whose role should be confined to that of witnesses, and participatory rights for such third parties are rejected as a threat to the objective and public nature of the criminal justice system. However, recent years have witnessed both a major shift in attitude in relation to the role of victims within the criminal justice system and a breakdown in the public/private divide in criminal justice discourse. This article considers the standing of the victim within the criminal trial against the backdrop of such changes, and examines the arguments for a more radical course of reform that would allow victims to participate actively in criminal hearings as they are able to do in many European jurisdictions.

Suggested Citation

Doak, Jonathan, Victims' Rights in Criminal Trials: Prospects for Participation. Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 294-316, June 2005. Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Doak (Contact Author)

Durham University - Law School ( email )

50 North Bailey
Palatine Centre
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom

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