Federal crime victims have been granted a number of rights during their participation in the criminal justice system. Some of these rights may only be available if a case is accepted for prosecution. To learn more about your rights, please contact our Victim/Witness Program.
If you ask to be kept informed about the status of the case, you have the right to receive periodic updates. It Is Very Important to Report Any Address or Telephone Changes to the Case Agent or Coordinator During an Investigation and Prosecution.
Even though the months ahead may be difficult for you and your family, your assistance is important to ensure that justice is fully achieved. In regards to the criminal justice process, all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a criminal court.
Throughout the investigation process, the case agent/Coordinator is your principle contact. If you remember anything additional, or learn of additional information about the crime, be sure to contact the case agent as soon as possible.
A federal investigation may be complex and lengthy. It may involve several agencies on the federal, state and/or local levels.
Your rights related to the investigation include:
- Information on the status of the investigation, to the extent that it is appropriate to inform a victim and to the extent that it will not interfere with the investigation;
- Notification of the arrest of an accused suspect;
- Notification if the case is declined for prosecution;
- Information on crime victim resources, including crime victim compensation and possible restitution;
- Information on the procedure to request the return of property held as evidence.
If A Case Is Accepted For Prosecution
If a case is accepted for prosecution federally, you should be contacted by an Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to handle the case. Each U. S. Attorney's office has a Victim/Witness Coordinator to help answer questions about the status of a case, provide information on available resources and address your concerns.
Victims have the right to be notified of the continuing status of a case once charges are filed. The Coordinator will serve as your liaison throughout your involvement in the criminal justice process, including if a defendant is convicted and after a sentence is imposed. This will include information about the restitution process and defendant’s incarceration status.
Victims of violent crimes also have the right to address the Court at sentencing to provide information about the impact of the crime on them and/or family members.
If You Are Threatened Or Harassed
Your safety is very important to us. It may be helpful to know that threats or retaliation against a victim or potential witness are very rare. However if anyone threatens you or you feel that you are being harassed because of your cooperation with an investigation, contact the local police and/or the case agent immediately.
Additional penalties have been established for harassment and other threats. The case agent is available to discuss additional protective measures if necessary.
Compensation For Injuries
The New York State Crime Victims Board offers a compensation program to assist victims of violent crimes with certain costs of a crime. The program offers compensation related to personal injury, death, and loss of essential personal property. Victims who have certain costs not covered by insurance or other reimbursement sources may apply for crime victim compensation. The types of specific expenses which may be covered include lost wages, medical bills including co-payment costs not covered by insurance, counseling, transportation for court or medical purposes, crime scene clean up, use of domestic violence shelters, and certain funeral expenses. Family members may also be eligible for services. There are stringent time deadlines for applications, as well as a maximum amount that can be paid. Contact www.cvb.state.ny.us for more information.
In most cases in convictions involving fraud or crimes of violence, the Court must order restitution to pay for certain victim losses. Keep a record of all expenses caused by the crime. If restitution is ordered, it is important to keep the U. S. Clerk of Court or Coordinator at the U. S. Attorney's Office informed of any address changes, so that any restitution collected can be forwarded to you. Restitution orders are enforceable for twenty years after a judgment is filed (plus the time incarcerated). See our Restitution Page for more information.
Why Do I Feel This Way?
How people react to a crime varies from person to person and may be affected by individual factors such as how a victim usually handles stressful situations and what kind of social support is available. Your reactions may be immediate or delayed. You may experience symptoms which are physical, emotional or psychological. For some people, the reactions decrease within a few days, for others, the reactions last much longer.
It Is Important to Realize That These Are Normal Reactions to a Crime.
Some victims find it helpful to seek the services of a counseling professional, clergy member, or advocacy organization. Contact the Coordinator for help in locating services, if needed.
Help Is Available
Remember, you are not alone.
Community Eldercare Locator
Consumer Credit Counseling Service
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Domestic Violence
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network Hotline
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
National Center for Parents of Murdered Children
National Children’s Alliance