The United States Attorney's Office Victim/Witness Assistance Program was developed to ensure that victims of federal crimes are treated with fairness and respect as they journey through the federal criminal justice system. This program carries out the mandates of the Federal Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990, the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990, the Justice for All Act of 2004 and other victim related legislation. These victim/witness assistance and protection laws apply to all victims and witnesses of federal crime who have suffered physical, financial, or emotional trauma. A variety of notification and assistance services are provided to victims and witnesses of federal crime by our Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff, Assistant United States Attorneys and other U.S. Attorney's Office staff, with the assistance of federal law enforcement agencies.
When a federal criminal case reaches the prosecution stage of the criminal justice process, notification services are provided concerning the status of the case involving the victim. Victims are notified of all case events through the Department of Justice Victim Notification System (VNS). They may be notified by letter and/or by calling the VNS automated call center. The notifications that may be made include the release or detention status of an offender pending judicial proceedings; the filing of charges against a suspected offender; the scheduling, including scheduling changes and/or continuances, of each court proceeding that the victim or witness is either required to attend or entitled to attend; the acceptance of a plea of guilty or the rendering of a verdict after trial; the opportunity to present to the court in the presentence report a victim impact statement containing information concerning any harm, including financial, social, psychological and physical harm, done to or loss suffered by the victim of the crime; the date set for sentencing if the offender is found guilty; and the sentence imposed and entry of the victim into the Bureau of Prisons' Victim and Witness Notification Program.
Our victim witness program staff also provide personal support and assistance to victims and witnesses during court appearances by assisting with travel and lodging arrangements, court orientation and trial preparation. Each of our offices has a toll-free number to allow victims and witnesses to easily contact our victim/witness staff. If needed, referrals are provided to existing agencies for shelter, counseling, compensation, and other types of assistance services.
A variety of informational materials are available to assist crime victims and witnesses through the federal justice process. Topics include: Victims and Witnesses: Understanding Your Rights and the Federal Court System — Dealing With Crisis —Surviving Sexual Assault: What You Should Know —Federal Domestic Violence Laws - What You Should Know About Restitution Payments to Victims — Preparing To Testify — Victim Witness Handbook for Child Support Enforcement Cases — Learning All About Court: An activity book for children going to federal court with a corresponding video — A Journey Through the Federal Justice System: a video explaining the federal justice process. All these educational materials are available from any of our victim witness staff.
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 also have the right to seek the advice of an attorney concerning these rights and your assertion of these rights in federal district court. Be advised that the law does not require providing information that may endanger the safety of any person.