U. S. Attorney’s Office For The Middle District Of Florida Observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
(Tampa) - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announced that his office, in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 21-27, hosted a variety of events throughout the district in observation of NCVR Week. A panel discussion on Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) for victim service providers, and others, was held on Wednesday in Tampa. Panelists included representatives from the Internal Revenue Service, the Tampa Police Department, federal prosecutors, and a SIRF victim. A fraud summit was held in Jacksonville on the same day, which included presentations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, HHS-OIG, the State Attorney’s Office, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Office of the Florida Attorney General, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and several fraud victims. On Thursday, federal prosecutors, along with representatives from the State Attorney’s Office, U.S. Secret Service, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office addressed Rotary Club members in The Villages. Prior to this week, the office hosted sessions on common fraud schemes in Tampa and Fort Myers. The goal of the presentations was to make community members aware of fraud schemes and best practices to avoid becoming a victim. A Central Florida fraud summit is scheduled in Orlando on May 15, 2013.
The theme for this year’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week, “New Challenges. New Solutions,” celebrates the spirit that will advance the progress and achievements on behalf of victims. It also captures the spirit and highlights the need for us to assist and serve each and every victim in need of hope and help. The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The Middle District of Florida has a dedicated Victim Witness Unit that serves federal crime victims across the district’s 35 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. According to DOJ statistics, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices provided notice of over 12.2 million case events, including notices regarding criminal charges filed, plea hearings, bond hearings and sentencing hearings.
Notification of significant case events leads to increased victim participation in court proceedings. Court accompaniment helps ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful as Victim-Witness personnel can answer questions and explain the federal judicial process.
In addition to notification and court accompaniment, the Middle District of Florida’s Victim Witness Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.
Further information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is available at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.