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Crime Victim Rights

Federal law states that a crime victim has the following rights in the U.S. federal criminal justice system:

  • 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 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.

Who is Entitled to Victim Rights During the Prosecution?

Under the Federal victims’ rights law , a victim is "a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense. 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...but in no event shall the defendant be named as such guardian or representative.” Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771(e).

Justice Department staff will make their best efforts to ensure victims are accorded the rights stated above. Crime victims may seek the advice of an attorney with respect to these rights.

Who to Contact about Rights?

If you are a victim of a terrorism crime being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice, and you believe that you have not received all the rights and services listed above, please contact the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) at 202-532-4100. OVT Staff will work with you to assist you in seeking your rights. If you believe that an employee of the Department of Justice failed to provide you with one or more of the federal victims’ rights listed above, you may file an administrative complaint, as provided under 28 CFR Section 45.10.

Complaint Process:

Administrative complaints are submitted to the Victims’ Rights Point of Contact, Heather Cartwright, Director, Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism. Complaints should be submitted on the form below. The form can be filled out on your computer using an Adobe Reader. Please print your completed form before closing the document or you may lose your information. Mail the completed form to the address listed on the form. You can also fax the form to the Victims’ Rights Point of Contact at 202-233-0770.

You will receive a written acknowledgment of the complaint from the Victims’ Rights Point of Contact. Any questions about the status of a pending complaint or the complaint process in general should be addressed to the Victims’ Rights Point of Contact at 202-233-0701.

For additional information about complaints you can visit the website for the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman at

Complaint forms:

These forms may be viewed with a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Updated August 4, 2017