How We Can Help
As a victim or witness, you are one of the most important people in the criminal justice process. The defendant is not the only one who has rights under the criminal justice system; as a victim or witness, you have rights too. We understand the courage you have displayed in your decision to work with the Commonwealth Attorneys Office, and we pledge to work with you to make this experience as comfortable and convenient as possible and to assist you in any way that we can. Here are some of the different ways that we can help:
The Newport News Victim Services Unit can inform you of any protective measures that may be available to you (such as a protective order for victims of domestic violence and stalking) and can assist you in obtaining protective services. Once the case goes to trial, a separate waiting room can be provided for you during court proceedings, and a sheriffs deputy can walk you to your car when court is over. These services are provided so that you may be free from intimidation at all times.
Our office is available to discuss any fears and concerns you may have about the crime in which you were involved, and about your upcoming court appearance. We want you to feel comfortable at all times and, at your request, we will provide a support person to be with you at all court appearances and meetings between you and the prosecutor assigned to your case. We can also give you information about resources available to you in the community, and we will provide referrals for counseling, emergency food and shelter, and transitional housing, if needed.
As a victim, you may request that your address and telephone information not be disclosed, except when necessary for the conduct of a criminal proceeding. As appropriate, a victim/witness advocate can help you in completing a Request for Confidentiality form and will act as a liaison between you and all involved agencies to ensure that your confidentiality is protected.
In cases where you have suffered a financial loss, the court may order the defendant to pay you restitution. If you desire restitution, you must itemize and document your losses and notify the Victim Services Unit as soon as possible. A victim/witness advocate will work with you to make sure the information is filed with the Commonwealths Attorneys Office and is presented to the court. Once restitution is ordered, our office can also assist you in filing the appropriate paperwork if the restitution is not paid within the timeframe determined by the court. Payments are generally made directly to you, to the probation and parole office, or through the court system.
Compensation may be awarded to you if you were physically injured and have no means of paying for your medical treatment. If you are a surviving spouse, parent, or child of a homicide victim, you may be compensated for certain un-reimbursed losses such as loss of wages, medical expenses, and funeral expenses. These benefits are not available for compensation of property loss, private attorney fees, or pain and suffering that you may have experienced as a result of the crime. For more information about the Virginia Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, click here.
If you are subpoenaed to court and have given reasonable notice at your place of employment, your employer cannot fire you, discipline you, or require you to use vacation or sick leave in order to go to court. Your employer, however, is not required to pay you for your time in court. At your request, we can provide your place of business with written confirmation of the date and time you are scheduled to appear in court and/or a letter stating that you did appear in court on a specific date and time.
At your request, intercession services can also be initiated with school officials, bill collectors, and medical providers. Please contact the Victim Services Unit for more information.
Right to Remain in the Courtroom
You have the right to remain in the courtroom during all court proceedings, unless the court finds that your presence would impair the conduct of a fair trial. A victim/witness advocate can accompany you to court proceedings, at your request, for support purposes.
Victim Impact Statement
In certain cases, the judge may consider a Victim Impact Statement when determining a defendants sentence. This statement gives you the opportunity to tell the court, in your own words, the impact the crime has had on your life. For more information about Victim Impact Statements, click here.
Victim Input on Parole
Crime victims who would like to have input in the parole process for parole eligible prisoners (for those crimes occurring prior to 01/01/95) may contact the Victim Services Unit of the Department of Corrections at 1-800-560-4292, or contact our Victim Services Unit for more information.
We can offer and provide a guided courtroom tour prior to your court date to assist in familiarizing you with the court process. Upon your request, a victim/witness advocate can also be with you for support throughout all court proceedings.
Closed Circuit Television
Closed Circuit TV may be available in certain, very limited cases. The Victim Services Unit can advise the Commonwealths Attorneys Office of your desire to use closed circuit television, and if necessary, can arrange a meeting between you and the prosecutor to discuss the legal issues and requirements surrounding its use.
To assist in the investigation and prosecution of certain cases, law enforcement authorities may hold your property as evidence for trial. Every effort will be made to return the property to you as soon as possible, and a victim/witness advocate can accompany you to the police department to sign for and retrieve the property, once it has been released.