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Victim Witness Assistance

The United States Attorney's Office is committed to providing support and information to victims and witnesses involved in civil and criminal litigation proceedings in which the U.S. Department of Justice is a party. A primary goal is to ensure that victims of crime are treated fairly, with dignity, and respect for their privacy.

Cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney are referred to the office by investigative agencies. Once federal charges are filed and the charges are made public, the U.S. Attorney's Office begins to carry out its responsibilities to victims and witnesses.

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 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.
  • 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.

It is the goal of the Office's Victim Witness Assistance staff to ensure victims and witnesses are accorded those rights.

Click HERE to view the Victim Witness Brochure.

Definition of a victim

The Attorney General's Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance define a victim as a person that has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a federal crime. If the victim is a non-governmental institution, such as a bank or corporation, this definition includes a representative of that institution. Government agencies are not considered victims for the purpose of victim services but federal government employees who are harmed in the performance of their duties are considered victims. If the victim is deceased, under 18 years of age, incompetent or incapacitated, this definition includes one of the following persons (in order of preference):

  • A spouse;
  • A legal guardian;
  • A parent;
  • A child:
  • A sibling;
  • Another family member; or
  • Another person designated by the court

A person who is culpable for the crime being investigated or prosecuted is not considered a victim for purposes of victim rights and services.

Definition of a witness

The Attorney General's Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance define a witness as a person who has information or evidence concerning a crime, and provides information regarding his or her knowledge to a law enforcement agency. Where the witness is a minor, the term witness includes an appropriate family member or legal guardian. The term witness does not include a person who is solely a defense witness.

services and assistance

Our office staff works together to ensure that victims are informed of the status of cases and to help victims find services to assist to help them recover from the effects of being victimized.

The following services and assistance will be provided:

  • Accompaniment
  • Advocacy
  • Case Status Updates and Notification (primarily through the Victim Notification System)
  • Courtroom Orientation
  • Creditor/Employer/School Intercession
  • Information and assistance with travel, lodging, parking, and reimbursement for mandatory court appearances
  • Referrals to other appropriate agencies
  • Separate waiting area away from the defendant
  • Support
  • Victim Rights Notification
  • Victim Notification System
  • Victim/Witness Intimidation Response
how to contact us

The Victim Witness Unit is comprised of an experienced Victim Witness Coordinator and two Victim Witness Assistants. Our staff can be contacted at the following telephone numbers or email addresses:

the following links provide further information for crime victims and witnesses
Updated August 3, 2016