Every United States Attorney's office has a Victim/Witness Assistance Program to assist victims of federal crimes. The Program seeks to provide information on rights and services to victims and witnesses of federal crimes, and to encourage the participation of victims in the criminal justice system in accordance with federal law. Federal crimes where assistance may be provided include bank and postal robberies, child pornography, financial crimes surrounding telemarketing and investment fraud, identity theft, hate crimes, as well as homicides, sexual assault, and child abuse, if the crime occurred on federal land.
Victims have certain rights which are listed in Title 42, United States Code, Section 10606, including the right to:
- be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy;
- be reasonably protected from the accused offender;
- be notified of court proceedings;
- be present at all public court proceedings related to the offence, unless the court determines that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony at trial;
- confer with the attorney for the Government in the case;
- receive restitution; and
- obtain information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment and release of the offender.
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.
Where appropriate, the United States Attorney's Office will:
- help with crisis intervention and support status;
- provide information about the status of a victim's case in the criminal justice process;
- accompany the victim to trials and sentencings upon request;
- make referrals to appropriate community agencies and programs and provide information on how to apply for victim compensation;
- provide information about a victim's rights and role in the federal criminal justice process;
- provide information about the financial restitution process once restitution has been ordered by the Court;
- arrange for the right to speak before the Court at sentencing where permitted act
- as a victim's liaison with investigative agencies, U.S. Probation; Department, the Bureau of Prisons and the assigned prosecutor advocate for the return of property to the victim;
- provide crime prevention tips.
Victim Service Agencies in Pennsylvania can be located, by county, by utilizing the map on the Pennsylvania Crime Victims web page. The web page can be found here: Victim Service Programs for Pennsylvania.
The Department of Justice has established the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints filed by crime victims against its employees. The web page can be found here: Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman.