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Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombuds

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The mission of the Department of Justice includes the pursuit of justice for criminal acts and the fair administration of justice for all Americans, including crime victims.  Department of Justice employees will use their best efforts to ensure that federal crime victims receive the rights to which they are entitled under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA).

It is the responsibility of the Victims’ Rights Ombuds to receive and investigate complaints against Department of Justice employees who violate or fail to provide one or more of the following rights established under the CVRA:

  • 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 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 Ombuds at the Department of Justice.
  • The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.

The rights of federal crime victims under the CVRA are guaranteed from the time federal criminal proceedings are initiated by complaint, information, or indictment.  The rights cease to exist if the federal criminal charges are dismissed or if the United States declines to bring charges after the filing of a complaint.

The Victims’ Rights Ombuds reviews the allegations in CVRA complaints; listens carefully and facilitates resolution of the claims; initiates an internal investigation (where appropriate); and renders a final decision. 

If the Victims’ Rights Ombuds determines that a Department of Justice employee failed to provide a crime victim with one or more rights, the Ombuds may require the employee to complete a course of training on victims’ rights or may recommend appropriate discipline.

The Victims' Rights Ombuds does not provide services for crime victims. If you are seeking victims’ services or resources, you may contact the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. You can reach the Office for Victims of Crime at 202-307-5983. You may also find additional resources and help at The Department of Justice Action Center

Who can file a CVRA complaint?

Any person (or their appropriate representative) who has been directly and proximately harmed because of the commission of a federal crime or a crime in the District of Columbia may file a CVRA complaint. You must be an identified crime victim in an offense charged in Federal District Court to file a complaint.

Who can I name in a CVRA complaint?

You may only file a CVRA complaint against a Department of Justice employee.

Department of Justice employees include attorneys, investigators, law enforcement officers, and Victim Witness Specialists who work at the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, the Antitrust Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Civil Divisions Office of Consumer Litigation, the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Environmental and Natural Resources Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Security Division, the U.S. Parole Commission, the Tax Division, and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

You may not file a CVRA complaint with this office against state or local law enforcement agencies, private citizens or companies, members of the judiciary, or employees at other federal agencies.

How do I file a CVRA complaint?

Complete the CVRA complaint form here

You must file your CVRA complaint within sixty (60) days of your awareness of a violation of your crime victims’ rights, but not more than one year after the alleged violation occurred.  Your complaint should provide as much information as possible about what happened, including the date(s) of the alleged violation; how the alleged violation occurred; the identity of the Department of Justice employee who is the subject of the complaint; the Federal District Court case number; and the name of the defendant.

After I file my CVRA complaint, what happens next?

The Victims’ Rights Ombuds will review the allegations in your complaint. The Ombuds may contact you to try to reasonably resolve the complaint to your satisfaction.

The Ombuds will close your complaint with no further action if:  the alleged misconduct occurred prior to the enactment of the CVRA; your complaint was not submitted within sixty (60) days of your knowledge of an alleged violation or within one year after the alleged violation; you are not an identified crime victim in a charged federal criminal case; your complaint is against state or local (not federal) law enforcement officials; or your complaint is against employees of another federal agency (not the Department of Justice). 

If your complaint contains specific and credible information that a Department of Justice employee violated one or more of your rights under the CVRA, the Ombuds may request that a senior Department of Justice official conduct an internal investigation.  The senior official will interview you; the employee named in your complaint and any other witnesses; and collect documents.  The Ombuds will notify you in writing of the results of the investigation. The Ombuds’ determination is final; there is no judicial review of the Ombuds’ decision.

More Information
Updated November 14, 2022