Kentucky Laws Relating To Victim Advocates

Under the Kentucky Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, a victim of a crime has the right to be accompanied to all court proceedings by a qualified victim’s advocate. All KCADV’s member programs have advocates that can accompany victims to court. Such advocates can provide much needed information about the court process, and provide emotional support and critical safety planning around court appearances. Please contact your local domestic violence program to inquire whether an advocate is available to accompany you to court.

The following statutes and evidentiary privilege should be understood and adhered to by shelter based victim advocates:

421.570 Training requirement for victim advocates — Prohibition against practicing law.

(1) For the purposes of this section and KRS 421.575, “victim advocate” means an individual at least eighteen (18) years of age and of good moral character, who is employed by, or serves as a volunteer for, a public or private agency, organization, or official to counsel and assist crime victims as defined in KRS 421.500, and includes a victim advocate employed by a Commonwealth’s attorney pursuant to KRS 15.760 and a victim advocate employed by a county attorney pursuant to KRS 69.350.

(2) Each victim advocate shall complete training which shall include information concerning the difference between advocacy and the practice of law, and the appropriate intervention with crime victims, including victims of domestic violence, child physical and sexual abuse, and rape.

(3) A victim advocate shall not engage in the practice of law as defined in KRS 524.130. Effective: July 14, 2000 History: Amended 2000 Ky. Acts ch. 317, sec. 7, effective July 14, 2000. — Created 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 189, sec. 4, effective July 15, 1996. Page 1

421.575 Role of victim advocates in court proceedings. In all court proceedings, a victim advocate, upon the request of the victim, shall be allowed to accompany the victim during the proceeding to provide moral and emotional support. The victim advocate shall be allowed to confer orally and in writing with the victim in a reasonable manner. However, the victim advocate shall not provide legal advice or legal counsel to the crime victim in violation of KRS 421.570 and 524.130. Effective: July 15, 1996 History: Created 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 189, sec. 5, effective July 15, 1996.


(a) Definitions. As used in this rule: (1) A “counselor” includes: (A) A certified school counselor who meets the requirements of the Kentucky Board of Education and who is duly appointed and regularly employed for the purpose of counseling in a public or private school of this state;

(B) A sexual assault counselor, who is a person engaged in a rape crisis center, as defined in KRS Chapter 421, who has undergone forty (40) hours of training and is under the control of a direct services supervisor of a rape crisis center, whose primary purpose is the rendering of advice, counseling, or assistance to victims of sexual assault;

(C) A certified professional art therapist who is engaged to conduct art therapy under KRS 309.130 to 309.1399;

(D) A licensed marriage and family therapist as defined in KRS 335.300 who is engaged to conduct marriage and family therapy pursuant to KRS 335.300 to 335.399;

(E) A licensed professional clinical counselor or a licensed professional counselor associate as defined in KRS 335.500;

(F) An individual who provides crisis response services as a member of the community crisis response team or local community crisis response team under KRS 36.250 to 36.270;

(G) A victim advocate as defined in KRS 421.570 except a victim advocate who is employed by a Commonwealth’s attorney under KRS 15.760 or a county attorney pursuant to KRS 69.350; and

(H) A certified fee-based pastoral counselor as defined in KRS 335.600 who is engaged to conduct fee-based pastoral counseling under KRS 335.600 to 335.699.

(2) A “client” is a person who consults or is interviewed or assisted by a counselor for the purpose of obtaining professional or crisis response services from the counselor.

(3) A communication is “confidential” if it is not intended to be disclosed to third persons, except persons present to further the interest of the client in the consultation or interview, persons reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication, or persons present during the communication at the direction of the counselor, including members of the client’s family.

(b) General rule of privilege. A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications made for the purpose of counseling the client, between himself, his counselor, and persons present at the direction of the counselor, including members of the client’s family.

(c) Who may claim the privilege. The privilege may be claimed by the client, his guardian or conservator, or the personal representative of a deceased client. The person who was the counselor (or that person’s employer) may claim the privilege in the absence of the client, but only on behalf of the client.

(d) Exceptions. There is no privilege under this rule for any relevant communication: (1) If the client is asserting his physical, mental, or emotional condition as an element of a claim or defense; or, after the client’s death, in any proceeding in which any party relies upon the condition as an element of a claim or defense.

(2) If the judge finds: (A) That the substance of the communication is relevant to an essential issue in the case;

(B) That there are no available alternate means to obtain the substantial equivalent of the communication; and

(C) That the need for the information outweighs the interest protected by the privilege. The court may receive evidence in camera to make findings under this rule.