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Victim-Witness Program

The United States Attorney’s Office’s Victim-Witness Program assists victims of federal crime during the prosecution process, provides information and referrals, helps ensure that victims’ rights are upheld, and notifies victims of public court proceedings. Program employees also serve as a central point of contact for federal witnesses and provide logistical information to individuals who have been designated as witnesses by the prosecution. Being a victim of, or a witness to, a crime can be a difficult, even devastating, experience. Victims and witnesses often feel frustrated, confused or overwhelmed by the criminal justice system and their role in the process. Our Victim-Witness staff is available to help. We have designed this web page to be a source of important information about the Program.

If you are a federal victim, witness or victim service provider, the following links will take you directly to information you may need (if a link is not active, there is no information we are providing at this time):

Bison on Antelope Flats near Jackson, Courtesy of the National Park Service

Victim-Wintess Program Staff

Vicki Powell
Victim-Witness Specialist
Cheyenne Office
(307) 772-2124
(800) 836-5801

Tamara James
Victim-Witness Specialist
Casper Office
(307) 261-5434
(800) 809-7066

Program History

In response to the 1981 President's Task Force on Violent Crime and the Victim and Witness Protection Act (VWPA) of 1982, responsibility for victim and witness assistance in the federal government was assigned to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide. A Victim-Witness Coordinator was appointed for each U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure compliance with the VWPA.

The Attorney General of the United States established guidelines for victim-witness assistance pursuant to the VWPA of 1982, and subsequent statutes have been enacted to further enhance and ensure additional rights and protections to victims and witnesses. The most recent Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance became effective on October 1, 2011.

Victims' Rights

The Crime Victims’ Rights Act gives victims of offenses charged in Federal Court the following rights:

  • 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 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 the proceeding.
  • Red Fox, Courtesy of the National Park Service
  • 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 the 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.

We in the United States Attorney’s Office will make our best effort to ensure that victims in criminal cases are accorded these rights. Victims may seek the advice of any attorney with respect to these rights and may file a complaint if they believe a U.S. Department of Justice employee has denied them any of these rights. Complaint forms are available in English and Spanish as follows:

Victim Notification

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 and we have developed a dedicated web page for this purpose (see the above link for “Status of Cases Involving Large Numbers of Victims”).

In addition to receiving notifications from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, victims may:

  • Call the Victim Notification System (VNS) center at (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 VNS Notify.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 Wyoming or through a PACER account. To set up an account call (800) 676-9856 or register at: PACER.GOV.
  • Contact the Victim-Witness Coordinator or the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case at (800) 836-5801 (toll free) or at (307) 772-2124.
  • If a defendant has been incarcerated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, further information may be obtained from the Bureau of Prisons website at: BOP.GOV Click the “Inmate Locator” button, and then search by the defendant’s name.

Other Victim-Witness Services

After charges are filed in a federal criminal case, Victim-Witness staff members provide certain services to victims and witnesses. They may:

  • Notify victims about public court proceedings such as indictments, arraignments, trial dates, continuances, plea agreements, trial outcomes and sentencing hearings.
  • Provide information to victims about the Victim Notification System (VNS) Call Center and Website.
  • Provide information about victims’ rights under federal law.
  • Refer victims to the Wyoming Crime Victims Compensation Program, as appropriate.
  • Provide information about federal court procedures and the criminal justice process.
  • Notify subpoenaed witnesses of changes in court dates or times.
  • Make travel and lodging arrangements for court appearances by non-local witnesses.
  • Arrange for direct government payment of certain witness transportation and lodging expenses.
  • Process vouchers for witness court attendance fees and reimbursement of allowable expenses.

Upon request, Victim-Witness staff members may also:

Yellow Alpine Sunflower, Courtesy of the National Park Service
  • Accompany victims to court proceedings.
  • Arrange for victims to speak at release, plea and sentencing hearings.
  • Provide restitution information to victims.
  • Supply victims with Victim Impact Statement and Financial Loss Forms.
  • 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 victims and witnesses.
  • Arrange for on-the-spot disbursements of travel expense monies for indigent witnesses.

Victim Impact Statements

If a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, victims may submit Victim Impact Statements explaining the physical, emotional, and/or financial effects of the crime. Victim Impact Statements are submitted to the U.S. District Court and may be used to help the Court decide what sentence the defendant should receive and whether restitution should be ordered. Victims of charges filed also have the right to speak at the sentencing hearing.

Restitution

If victims suffered financial loss as a result of the crime, the U.S. District 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 (800) 836-5801 or the U.S. District Court’s Financial Administrator at (307) 433-2120.

Wyoming Crime Victims Compensation Program, Division of Victim Services

Belted Kingfisher with Fish, Courtesy of the National Park Service

The Wyoming Crime Victims Compensation Program provides reimbursement to eligible victims and their families for certain crime-related expenses. These reimbursements may cover medical, counseling and funeral expenses, as well as certain other expenses approved by the Program. However, reimbursement does not cover property losses or provide compensation for pain and suffering. Victims may contact the Wyoming Crime Victims Compensation Program at (307) 777-7200, or use the toll-free Victim Helpline at (888) 996-8816 TTY/V, or via e-mail at: Victim Services, or contact the United States Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness staff for more information about the Program and the benefits that may be available.

Threats and Intimidation

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. In addition, victims or witnesses who have been threatened should also alert the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case.

 

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