Victim and Witness Assistance Program
Victim and Witness Specialists assist the victims and witnesses of cases being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. If you have received notification that you are a victim of or witness to a federal crime being prosecuted by this Office, please read the following carefully.
If you have been notified that you are required to appear as a witness for the Government in a case or other legal proceeding being handled by this Office, the Victim and Witness Assistance team will make arrangements for your travel and lodging, which they will prepay. If you are coming from outside the local court area, please do not make travel arrangements yourself.
The Office is committed to protecting the rights of crime victims. The Victim and Witness Specialists will make sure you are notified of important stages of the case and can help refer you to agencies that provide important services, including compensation and counseling. Below you will find information regarding your rights as a victim, what you can expect during the case, and information regarding the Victim Notification System.
Victims of Federal Crimes are entitled to the following:
- 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 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.
- The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement.
- The right to be informed of the rights under this section and the services described in section 503(c) of the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 10607(c)) and provided contact information for the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman of the Department of Justice.
If you have any questions about your rights, you may seek the advice of an attorney.
What to expect:
- Notification to victims about the status of the case as it proceeds through the prosecution process;
- Information and referrals about community-based services to help victims cope with the impact of their victimization;
- Information about compensation for victims of violent crime;
- Notification, upon request, to the employer of the victim or witness if cooperation in the prosecution of the crime causes absence from work;
- Information to victims about the opportunities to submit victim impact statements and be reasonably heard;
- Information to victims about the restitution process;
- Escort of victims to federal court proceedings; and,
- Information for travel and reimbursement and assistance to witnesses testifying in federal court proceedings.
If you are a victim of a crime being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and you believe that you have not received the rights and services listed above, please contact the Victim Witness Assistance Unit.
Victim Notification System
The U.S. Department of Justice's Victim Notification System (VNS) is a cooperative effort among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Attorney's Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This automated system provides victims of federal cases with information about scheduled court dates and the outcome of significant court events. It also provides victims with information about the offender's custody or release status. In addition to written notifications generated through VNS, victims may obtain case status information by calling the VNS Call Center at 1-866-365-4968 (1-866-DOJ-4YOU) or by accessing the VNS website: www.notify.usdoj.gov.
Access to VNS is limited to victims of federal crimes who have received VNS ID and PIN numbers from the federal law enforcement investigative agency (FBI or USPIS) or the U.S. Attorney's Office. For further information about VNS, contact the Victim Witness Assistance Unit.
Victim Notification System Brochure
If you believe a Department of Justice employee failed to provide the rights established under the Crime Victims Rights Act of 2004, you may submit a complaint form. The Office of the Victims' Rights Ombudsman was established to receive and investigate complaints filed by crime victims against DOJ employees and has implemented Procedures to Promote Compliance with Crime Victims' Rights Obligations. The complaint process is not designed for the correction of specific victims' rights violations, but is instead used to request corrective or disciplinary action against Department of Justice employees who may have failed to provide rights to crime victims. The Department of Justice will investigate the allegations in your complaint to determine whether your rights were violated by an employee.