Victim-Witness Assistance Unit
United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico
Post Office Box 607
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Toll Free: 1-888-388-6541
Las Cruces Branch Office: 1-800-808-2679
The Victim-Witness Assistance Unit (“VW Unit”) provides assistance to victims and witnesses of crime while they are involved with the federal criminal justice system. The VW Unit also helps victims understand the criminal justice system and assists with restitution and services.
The VW Unit provides assistance in the following areas:
- Crisis intervention
- Referrals to human service, medical, and other helping agencies
- Court accompaniment
- Special services for child, elderly, and handicapped victims
- Information about court proceedings and case status
- Language interpretation, to include Navajo, Spanish, and others
- Crime victims compensation claims assistance
- Assistance with victim impact statements
- Assistance with travel, lodging, and reimbursement for witnesses
For more information click on the following links:
- Federal Crime Victims’ Rights
- Victim Notification
- Victim and Witness Services
- Victim Impact Statements
- New Mexico Crime Victims Compensation Program
- Threats and Intimidation
- Victim-Witness Brochures, Newsletters, and Links
Federal Crime Victims’ Rights
Federal crime victims have the following rights under the Crime Victims’s Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771):
- 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 proceedings, 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.
We make our best efforts to ensure victims are accorded the rights described. Victims may seek the advice of an attorney with respect to these rights.
If you believe that an employee of the United States Attorney’s Office failed to provide you with one or more of these rights, you may file an administrative complaint, as provided under 28 CFR § 45.10. To obtain information about these procedures, please contact the United States Attorney’s Office at (505) 346-7274 or the Office of Victims’ Rights Ombudsman at (202) 616-0003.
After the defendant is charged with a federal crime, victims are entitled to be notified of public court proceedings. In most instances, victims will receive an initial letter from the United States Attorney’s Office and subsequent letters as case events warrant. Occasionally, in cases involving a large number of victims, alternative notification procedures may be used.
In additional to receiving notification from the United States Attorney’s Office, victims may:
- Call the Victim Notification System (VNS) Center at 1-866-365-4968 for recorded information about the status of a case. Victims will need the Victim Identification Number (VIN) and Personal Identification Number (PIN) provided to them in the initial notification letter.
- Visit the VNS Web site at https://www.notify.usdoj.gov/index.jsp to check the status of a case, using the VIN and PIN provided in the initial notification letter.
- Contact the VW Unit or the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case toll free at 1-888-388-6541 (Albuquerque Office) or 1-800-808-2679 (Las Cruces Branch Office).
- Obtain information on a defendant incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons directly from the BOP web site at www.bop.gov. Once at the BOP web site, click the “Inmate Locator” button and search the database by the defendant’s name.
Victim and Witness Services
After charges are filed in a federal criminal case, the VW Unit provides certain services to victims and witnesses. These include:
- Providing notification to victims about public court proceedings such as indictments, arraignments, trial dates, continuances, plea agreements, trial outcomes and sentencings.
- Providing information to victims about the VNS call center and web site.
- Providing information about victims’ rights under federal law.
- Referring victims to the Crime Victims Reparation Commission.
- Providing information about federal court procedures and the criminal justice process.
- Notifying subpoenaed witnesses of changes in court dates or times.
- Arranging travel and lodging for subpoenaed witnesses and victims.
- Arranging for direct government payment of certain witness transportation and lodging expenses.
- Processing vouchers for witness court attendance fees and reimbursement of allowable expenses.
Upon request, the VW Unit may:
- Accompany victims and witnesses to court proceedings.
- Arrange for victims to speak at release, plea, and sentencing hearings.
- Provide restitution information to victims.
- Supply victims with victim impact statement forms.
- Refer victims to social service programs and other community resources.
- Notify employers and creditors of a victim’s or witness’s role in a criminal prosecution.
- Arrange court-related assistance for child victims and witnesses.
- Arrange for on-the-spot reimbursement for indigent witnesses.
If a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, victims have the opportunity to submit a victim-impact statement in which they explain the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the crime. Victim impact statements are submitted to the Court and may be used to help the Court decide what sentence the defendant should receive and whether restitution should be ordered.
If a victim suffered financial loss as a result of a crime, the Court may order the defendant to pay restitution as part of the sentence. While there is no guarantee that payment will be made, it is important that victims keep detailed records of all crime-related losses and expenses.
If a victim is awarded restitution and has questions about payments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Financial Litigation Unit at 1-888-388-6541 or the U.S. District Court Financial Clerk at 505-348-2000, should be contacted.
New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission (NMCVRC)
NMCVRC provides reimbursement to eligible victims and their families for certain crime-related expenses. NMCVRC benefits may cover medical, counseling, and funeral expenses, as well as lost wages as a direct result of the crime. NMCVRC does not cover property loss or damage to property, or provide compensation for pain and suffering. Victims may contact NMCVRC at 1-800-306-6262 or www.cvrc.state.nm.us.
Threats and Intimidation
It is a federal offense to threaten, intimidate, or harass a victim or witness in a criminal proceeding. If victims or witnesses are threatened or feel harassed because of their involvement in a case, they should notify the investigating agent or in an emergency call 911.
Victim-Witness Assistance Links
Office for Victims of Crime - Directory of New Mexico Crime
- Victims Service. www.ovc.ncjrs.gov/findvictimservices
- Department of Justice for Kids. www.usdoj.gov/kidspage
- Office for Victims of Crime - Help for Victims. www.ojp.gov/programs/victims.htm
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). www.trynova.org
- The National Center for Victims of Crime. www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims
- USDOJ: Office on Violence Against Women. www.usdoj.gov/ovw
- Federal Bureau of Investigation - Investigative Programs - Crimes Against Children. www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac
Victim-Witness Pamphlets (available upon request)
Information and Assistance for Federal Crime Victims and Witnesses
Tips for Crime Victims - Exercising Your Right to Be Heard