The Victim-Witness Assistance Program assists victims of federal crime during the prosecution process, provides information and referrals, helps protect victims' rights, and notifies them of public court proceedings.
After charges have been filed in federal court, victims of the charges filed are entitled to the following rights, according to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771):
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving the release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
We will make our best efforts to ensure victims are accorded these rights. Victims may seek the advice of an attorney with respect to these rights, and may file a complaint if they believe a Department of Justice employee has denied them any of these rights.
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After the defendant is charged with a federal crime, victims are entitled to be notified of public court proceedings. In most instances, victims will receive an initial letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office and subsequent letters as case events warrant. Occasionally, in cases involving large numbers of victims, alternative notification procedures may be used.
In addition to receiving notifications from the U.S. Attorney's Office, victims may:
- Call the Victim Notification System (VNS) Center at 1-866-365-4968 for recorded information about the status of a case, using the Victim Identification Number (VIN) and Personal Identification Number (PIN) provided in our initial letter.
- Visit VNS's Website (www.notify.usdoj.gov) to check the status of a case, using the VIN and PIN provided in our initial letter.
- Access the U.S. District Court's website at any federal court in Idaho or through a PACER account. To set up an account call 1-800-676-6856 or register at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov. There is no charge to establish an account or view lists of documents. Documents cost $.08 per page to view or print, but users who accumulate less than $10 a year in fees are not charged.
- Contact the Victim-Witness Coordinator or the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case at 1-888-895-1036 (toll free) or at (208) 334-1211.
- If a defendant is incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, further information may be obtained from the Bureau of Prisons web site at www.bop.gov. Click the "Inmate Locator" button, then search by the defendant's name.
After charges are filed in a federal criminal case, Victim-Witness Coordinators provide certain services to victims and witnesses.
- Notify victims about public court proceedings such as arraignments, trial dates, plea hearings, trial outcomes and sentencing hearings.
- Provide information to victims about the Victim Notification System (VNS) Call Center and Website.
- Refer victims to the Idaho Crime Victims Compensation Program.
- Provide restitution information to victims.
- Supply victims with Victim Impact Statement and Financial Loss forms.
- Provide information about federal court procedures.
- Notify subpoenaed witnesses of changes in court dates or times.
- Make travel and lodging arrangements for court appearances by subpoenaed non-local witnesses.
- Submit vouchers for witness court attendance fees and reimbursement of allowable expenses.
Upon request, Victim-Witness Coordinators may also:
- Accompany victims to court proceedings.
- Refer victims to social service programs and other community resources.
- Notify employers and creditors of a victim's or witness's role in a criminal prosecution.
- Arrange court-related assistance for child witnesses.
If a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, victims of the charges filed may submit Victim Impact Statements explaining the physical, emotional, and/or financial effects of the crime. Victim Impact Statements are submitted to the Court and may be used to help the Court decide what sentence the defendant should receive and whether restitution should be ordered. Victims of the charges filed also have the right to speak at the sentencing hearing.
If victims suffered financial loss as a result of the crime, the Court may order the defendant to repay them as part of the sentence. While there is no guarantee that payment will be made, it is important that victims keep detailed records of all crime-related losses and expenses.
If victims are awarded restitution and have questions about payments, they may contact the U.S. Attorney's Office Financial Litigation Unit at (208) 334-1211 or the U.S. District Court's Financial Administrator at (208) 334-9207.
The Idaho Crime Victims Compensation Program (ICVCP) provides reimbursement to eligible victims and their families for certain crime-related expenses. ICVCP benefits may cover medical, counseling and funeral expenses, as well as wages lost as a direct result of the crime. The program does not cover property losses or provide compensation for pain and suffering. Victims may contact the ICVCP at (208) 334-6080 or 1-800-950-2110 or go the their website by clicking here.
It is a federal offense to threaten, intimidate, or harass a victim or witness in a criminal proceeding. Victims or witnesses who are threatened or feel harassed because of their involvement in a case should notify the investigating agency or, in an emergency, call 911.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.