Victim-Witness Assistance Program
The Justice for All Act of 2004 re-emphasizes the rights of crime victims in federal criminal proceedings by adding new rights, modifying some existing rights, and providing mechanisms to enforce victims’ rights. The Act also sets forth the obligation of the Court to afford crime victims their rights and the obligation of officers and employees of the United States to “make their best efforts to see that crime victims are notified of, and accorded [their] rights.” In the NDNY the Victim-Witness Unit ensures that victims and witnesses of federal crimes receive the assistance and protection to which they are entitled under the law.
If you are a victim or a witness to a crime, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program is designed to provide you with services while you are involved with the criminal justice system.
As a victim of crime, you may be experiencing feelings of confusion, frustration, fear, and anger. Our staff can help you deal with these feelings. We also will explain your rights as a victim or witness, and help you better understand how the criminal justice system works.
One of the responsibilities of citizenship for those who have knowledge about the commission of a crime is to serve as witnesses at the criminal trial or one of the other hearings held in connection with the criminal prosecution. The federal criminal justice system cannot function without the participation of witnesses. The complete cooperation and truthful testimony of all witnesses are essential to the proper determination of guilt or innocence in a criminal case.
Our office is concerned that victims and witnesses of crime are treated fairly throughout their contact with the criminal justice system.
The United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office have taken several steps to make the participation by victims of crime and witnesses more effective and meaningful. One of these steps is the preparation of this web section, which contains information related to our Victim-Witness Unit. We hope that it will provide you the answers to many of your questions and will give you sufficient general information to understand your rights and responsibilities.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE VICTIM WITNESS UNIT
NOTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
TOLL FREE: 1 (888) 539-4535
Ivy M. Schoff
Marilyn P. Morey
Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, 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 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 by law.
The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
*According to the Act, a victim is "a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense or an offense in the District of Columbia. In the case of a crime victim who is under 18 years of age, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased, the legal guardians of the crime victim or the representatives of the crime victim's estate, family members, or any other persons appointed as suitable by the court, may assume the crime victim's rights under this chapter, but in no event shall the defendant be named as such guardian or representative."
The United States Attorney's Office will make our best efforts to ensure you are provided the rights described. Section 3771(c)(2) requires that we advise you that you have the right to retain counsel. Although the Act specifically sets forth your right to seek advice of an attorney with regard to your rights under the Act, there is no requirement that you retain counsel. The Government cannot advise you about specific counsel, nor can the Government (or the Court) pay for counsel to represent you.
If you allege failure on the part of a Department of Justice Employee to provide you these rights you may file a written complaint.
If you believe that you are a victim in a PENDING Federal Case and you would like additional information, please click here. Please note that due to the large number of victims in the cases listed on this website email is the preferable way to reach a member of the Victim Witness Unit. If you chose to call our office, please be aware that it may take up to two weeks to return your call due to the high volume of calls we are receiving. Your call/email is important to us and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your anticipated patience.
If you would like more information about U.S. Department of Justice programs, please visit these websites: