Bill of Rights
Understanding Your Rights as a Crime Victim
Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance
Victim and Witness Assistance Board
100 Cambridge Street, room 1104
Boston, MA. 02201
Tel: (617) 727-5200
Fax: (617) 727-6552
The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights provides the following rights to crime victims in order to ensure them a meaningful role in the criminal justice system. Services available under the Victim Bill of Rights are provided to the greatest extent possible, but are subject to and depend on public funding and available resources. Victims who were threatened with physical injury during a crime are given priority status of services. If you wish to be notified of the status of a pending criminal case, you should provide to prosecutors and others a address and telephone number at which you can be reached
The Right to Information on the Criminal Justice System
- You have the right to be informed of how a criminal case progresses through the system, what your role is in the process, what will be expected of you, and why.
- You have the right to be informed of rights and services for victims in the court process
- You have the right to assistance in applying for social services, financial assistance and certification to receive information about an offender.
The Right to Information on the Criminal Case Involving You
- Upon request, you have the right to be updated on significant developments in the case.
- You have the to be notified in a timely manner of any changes in schedule for court appearances for which you have been ordered to appear.
- You have the right to be notified of the final disposition of the case, including an explanation of the type of sentence imposed and a copy of the conditions of probation, if any.
- You have the right to be notified by the supervising probation officer whenever an offender seeks to change a restitution order
The Right to be Heard and Present at Court Proceedings
- You and your family members have the right to be present at all court proceedings unless you are to testify and the Judge determines your testimony may be influenced by your presence.
- At sentencing, you have the right to present a Victim Impact Statement to the court about the physical, emotional and financial effects of the crime on you and about your opinion regarding the sentence to be imposed.
- You have the right to submit your Victim Impact Statement to the Parole Board as part of its records on the offender.
- You have the right to be heard at any hearings in which the offender is seeking to change a restitution order.
- You have the right to be heard at any other time deemed appropriate by the Judge
The Right to Confer at Key Stages in the Court Process
- You have the right to confer with the prosecutor before the start of a case, before a case is dismissed and before a sentence recommendation is made.
- You have the right to confer with the prosecutor whenever a defense motion is made to obtain your psychiatric records or other confidential information.
- You have the tight to confer with the probation officer about the impact of the crime on you before the officer files a full pre-sentence report on the offender with the court
The Right to Financial Assistance
- You may be eligible to apply for Victim Compensation for certain out of pocket expenses, such as medical, counseling or funeral costs, or lost wages incurred as a direct result of the crime.
- You have the right to a witness fee for each day that you are required to be in court.
- You have the right to request that the Judge order the offender to pay restitution for your crime related losses, and receive a copy of the offenders schedule of restitution payments
- You may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit for damages caused as a result of the crime by consulting a private attorney.
The Right to be Notified of an Offender's Release
- Upon release, you have the right to advance notification whenever the offender is moved to a less secure correction facility.
- Upon request, you have the right to advance notification, whenever the offender receives a temporary, provisional or final release from custody
- Upon request, you have the right to notification whenever the offender escapes from custody
- You have the right to be informed by the Parole Board of the offenders parole eligibility.
- You may be eligible to get additional information about the offender, such as a criminal record or the offenders compliance with the terms of a sentence.
The Right to other Protections in the Criminal Justice System
- You have the right to request confidentially for yourself and family members during the court proceedings for personal information, including home address, telephone numbers, school and place of employment
- You have the right to protection by law enforcement from harm of threats of harm as a result of your cooperation with the court process
- You have the right you a safe waiting area which is separate from the defendant's family during the court proceedings.
- You have the right to prompt disposition of the case involving you.
- You have the right to decline or agree to submit to any defense interview before trial, or to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview
- You have the right to request employer and creditor intercession by the prosecutors office if the crime or your involvement in the court process causes problems with an employer or in meeting financial obligations.
- You have the right to have any property seized as evidence returned to you as soon as possible once it is no longer needed for law enforcement purposes.