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Victim-Witness Program

The Victim-Witness Program provides a variety of services to support victims and facilitate the availability of witnesses for trials and hearings. The Victim-Witness Coordinator identifies potential victims of crimes being investigated and prosecuted by the office. Victims receive notice of their right to be informed of the progress of cases and of the availability of referral services such as counseling, financial assistance through the State Compensation Board, and assistance with employers and creditors.

The Victim-Witness Coordinator also provides assistance at trial to victims and with the preparation of Victim Impact Statements used at sentencing. In the event the safety of a witness is at risk the Victim-Witness Coordinator will coordinate the provision of emergency assistance to protect witnesses such as arranging transportation to a safe location and alternative housing. The coordinator will also assist in arranging protective services for witnesses deemed at risk through the U.S. Marshal's Witness Security Program.

The Victim-Witness Coordinator also assists civil and criminal attorneys in the office in making travel and other arrangements for witnesses to attend depositions, interviews, hearings, and trials.

CVRA (The Crime Victims' Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771 (2004). CVRA requires that each US Attorney Office designate an administrative authority (POC) to receive and investigate complaints regarding the violation of victims' rights. The Point of Contact's responsibilities are to conduct thorough, timely and impartial investigations when a complaint is brought by a victim. The POC is capable and comfortable conducting interviews and memorializing those discussion. The POC is able to communicate comprehensively and articulately in writing his/her findings for the Victims' Rights Ombudsman, and represents this office in a professional manner.

How to File an Administrative Complaint:

If you are a victim and think that your rights under the CVRA have been violated or that you have not received all the rights under the CVRA, you have the right to file an administrative claim. Claims should be made in writing on the official complaint form. From the time you learn of a potential violation under CVRA, you have 60 days or one year from the actual violation to file a complaint. For alleged violations please contact the First Assistant United States Attorney at 901-544-4231.

After a complaint is filed, it will be investigated. If a violation is found to have occurred, every attempt will be made to correct the violation. You will be notified of the findings and corrective action. Additionally, all violations are reported to the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman (VRO) for any additional action the VRO deems appropriate. Should you need a form in languages other than English, please contact the POC at the phone number listed above. To get a copy of the English Complaint Form, please click the link below:

CVRA Complaint Form - Western District of Tennessee:

Victim Witness (English Form)
Víctimas y Testigos (Forma en Español)

Contact information:

LaRita M. Bearden, Victim Witness Specialist
Desk: (901) 969-2947
Office: (901) 544-4231

Monday to Friday (Central Time)
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Victim Rights:

Federal crime victims* have the following rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771 (“CVRA”):
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 CVRA, “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.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3771(e).

RESOURCES:

Updated September 22, 2016