If you are a victim or witness of a violent crime, it is likely that you will need to go to court. This can be a difficult and confusing experience. You may have a lot of questions about the criminal court system, and what will be expected of you. We will talk to you and provide assistance based on your specific case and needs. Services are provided on a priority basis to vulnerable victims and witnesses of violent crimes, such as domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, homicide and hate crimes. After charges have been laid, the police or Crown attorney refers victims and witnesses to the program for help.
Victims’ Rights – Virginia Rules
Victims of crime, and other people who have knowledge about the commission of a crime, are often required to testify at a trial or at other court proceedings. The federal criminal justice system cannot function without the participation of victims and witnesses. Complete cooperation and truthful testimony of all witnesses and victims are essential to the determination of the guilt or innocence of a person accused of committing a crime. Crime victims and witnesses might experience feelings of confusion, frustration, fear, and anger. If you are a victim or a witness, the Victim Witness Program of the United States Attorney's Office can help you understand the rights given to you by law. The United States Attorney's Office is committed to ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
The Victim/Witness Assistance Program
Virginia Rules is an educational program designed to help instructors, parents and students understand the laws that apply to Virginia teens in their everyday lives. When the victim is a minor, the definition of victim includes his or her parents or guardians. Examples of some rights victims most often choose to exercise are: being notified of court dates, remaining in the courtroom during hearings, and giving victim impact statements at sentencing hearings. If the victim or witness cannot speak English or is hearing impaired, a court-approved interpreter may be appointed to assist during the criminal justice process, at no cost to the victim. If a victim or witness is worried about having to wait in an area near the defendant or defense witnesses, a separate waiting area for victims and witnesses may be provided.
When a case against an alleged perpetrator goes to trial in criminal court, the victim is often asked to testify. The idea of testifying may feel overwhelming or intimidating for some survivors of sexual violence. Everyone responds differently to sharing their experience publicly, and testifying in court is no exception. Learning more about the process and what support is available can help you feel more comfortable and prepared. Keep in mind that civil trials have different procedures than criminal ones.