Victims' Rights Information and Notification (VNS)
YOUR RIGHTS AS A CRIME VICTIM UNDER THE JUSTICE FOR ALL ACT
A federal crime victim has the following rights:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused;
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of 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 in 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.
When a federal criminal case reaches the prosecution stage of the criminal justice process, notification services are provided concerning the status of the case involving the victim or witness. The following notifications will be made, unless the victim specifically requests not to be notified.
- The release or detention status of an offender pending judicial proceedings, or the placement in a pretrial diversion program, and the conditions thereof;
- The filing of charges against a suspected offender, or the proposed dismissal of any or all charges, including dismissal in favor of state prosecution;
- The scheduling, including scheduling changes and/or continuances, of any public court proceeding, including post-judgment hearings (e.g. probation hearings, appellate arguments);
- The terms of any negotiated plea, including the acceptance of a plea of guilty or the rendering of a verdict after trial;
- The dates of any plea, sentencing, or parole hearing, and the victim’s right to make a statement or present any information to the court in relation to the plea, sentence, or parole of the defendant(s);.
- The opportunity to present to the court in the presentence report a victim impact statement containing information concerning any harm, including financial, social, psychological, and physical harm, done to or loss suffered by the victim of the crime;
- The outcome of any trial, and the sentence imposed, to include restitution awarded, if applicable;
- Provide or arrange for support and assistance to victims and witnesses during court appearances;
- Upon request by a victim or witness, provide assistance in notifying the employer if cooperation in the investigation or prosecution of the crime causes his/her absence from work; and the creditors, where appropriate, if the crime or cooperation in the investigation or prosecution affects his/her ability to make timely payments;
- Routinely provide information or assistance concerning transportation, parking, lodging, translator, and related services;
- Provide referrals to other agencies for shelter, counseling, compensation, and other types of assistance services when needed.
VNS - Victim Notification System
In order to provide victims with information on case events, the Department of Justice has developed the Victim Notification System (VNS). VNS is a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the United States Attorney’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
This free, computer-based system provides important information to victims. In many cases you will receive letters generated through VNS containing information about the events pertaining to your case and/or any defendants in the case.
This information is also available in English and Spanish on the Internet and through a toll-free telephone number (Call Center). In cases with many victims, you may receive only one letter and then be directed to the Internet Call Center for further information or receive case updates via this website’s Multi-Victim Case Updates link.
You may call the VNS Call Center at 1-866-DOJ-4YOU (1-866-365-4968) for current information. You will be REQUIRED to enter your VIN and your PIN. The VNS call center is available:
Monday-Friday 6:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.
Saturday 6:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Additionally, you may access the VNS Internet site at: www.Notify.USDOJ.Gov. If you are a new user, click “First time users click here”. Enter your VIN, enter your PIN and complete the remaining information as requested.
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