Mission: To respond to the needs and uphold the rights of victims and witnesses.
The Victim-Witness Unit works to ensure that office policies comply with federal victims' rights laws and encourages the fair treatment and participation of victims in the criminal justice process. Further, the Unit provides current case status information and referral services for crime victims and witnesses.
Being the victim of, or witness to, a crime can be a difficult, even devastating experience. Victims and witnesses may feel frustrated, confused or overwhelmed trying to negotiate the unfamiliar ways of the justice system alone. The Victim-Witness Unit exists to help.
As a crime victim, you have the following rights under 18 United States Code § 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 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.
We will make our best efforts to ensure you are accorded the rights described. You can seek the advise of an attorney with respect to these rights.
However, the Victim-Witness Unit goes further than just enforcing these rights. It also exists to:
- Provide information on what to expect after a crime has been committed and to aid in referrals to local resources that offer assistance in coping with the effects of a crime.
- Provide information on what to expect from the justice system and how it works, answer any questions regarding the role a victim/witness plays, and accompany the victim/witness to court if requested.
- Intervene, upon request, with employers, creditors, and other service agencies.
- Help apply for Crime Victims' Compensation, if eligible.
- Help with Victim Impact Statements to the sentencing judge.
- Assist with the return of property being held as evidence.
- Assist in accessing the Victim Notification System (VNS). If a person is identified as a victim in a federal case, they will have access to the national automated case status information system called VNS. This system provides access to ongoing case status updates from the arrest of an offender throughout their prison sentence. Access to VNS is limited to victims who have received a confidential PIN from a federal law enforcement agency or the United States Attorney's Office.
Note: The Victim-Witness Unit cannot represent anyone personally, or provide legal advice or direct compensation. However, it will advocate on the behalf of a victim/witness as far as the law allows.
If you have been a victim of a federal crime or have been called as a witness in a criminal federal proceeding, and/or if you have questions about your appearance or the status of the criminal case, please contact the Victim-Witness Unit at the e-mail address below, or you can call the United States Attorney's Office at (503) 727-1000.
Additionally if you have any questions about your rights as a victim of federal crime as set out above, or if you believe you have not been given the opportunity to exercise your rights as a crime victim, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Victim-Witness Unit at 503-727-1000. The U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Unit is committed to our mission to respond to the needs and uphold the rights of victims and witnesses. If you have any reason to believe your rights have not been honored, please contact the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman.