The Victim-Witness Assistance Unit (VWAU) of the United States Attorney's Office provides services for hundreds of victims and witnesses of federal crimes each year and ensures that the voices and needs of crime victims remain uppermost in our minds throughout the judicial process. The VWAU consists of Shirley Estreicher, the Victim-Witness Program Manager, and Rosa Salloum, a Victim-Witness Specialist. The VWAU can be reached at (973) 645-2717.
Rights of Crime Victims
Federal crime victims* have the following rights, as set forth in the Justice for All Act of 2004, 18 U.S.C. § 3771:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) 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.
(3) 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.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
(9) The right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea bargain or deferred prosecution agreement.
(10) 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.
*Under the statute, "the term ‘crime victim' means a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense or an offense in the District of Columbia. 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 under this chapter, but in no event shall the defendant be named as such guardian or representative."
Services Provided by the Victim-Witness Assistance Unit
Informs victims of services available, directing them to community resources and social services that can provide additional assistance.
Orients victims and witnesses to the criminal justice system, explaining the criminal justice process and court procedures.
Notifies victims and witnesses of the status of cases, court appearances, and case dispositions.
Arranges accommodations and transportation services, when appropriate.
Provides victims with information about court-ordered restitution.
Informs victims and witnesses of the availability of witness fees and reimbursement of expenses.
Assists victims with prompt return of personal property held as evidence in a criminal case.
Escorts victims and witnesses from the reception area to the courtroom in which they are to testify.
The Victim-Witness Assistance Program provides many important services for crime victims, including crisis support, peer support, referral to counseling, advocacy within the justice system, and, in some cases, emergency shelter. However, we cannot make financial rewards, do not provide legal advice, and cannot pay for the replacement of stolen or damaged property.
Victims of Crime Compensation Board
Compensation for losses due to injuries is available to eligible victims of violent crime through the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, 50 Park Place, Newark, New Jersey 07102, telephone 973-648-2107. In the case of the death of the victim, payment may be ordered to or for the benefit of the dependants of the deceased victim.
The following links provide additional information for victims of certain crimes:
Information for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and Forced Labor (link provided by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice)
Trafficking in Persons: A Guide for Non-Governmental Organizations (link to a brochure provided by the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor)