The primary goals of the Victim Witness Assistance Program are to reduce the level of secondary injury associated with the aftermath of crime and to aid in the prosecution of criminal cases by ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are provided with the entitlements and services mandated by the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights (M.G.L. c. 258B) and all additional services provided as a policy of the program within the Office of the District Attorney.
Victim Witness Advocates are primarily responsible for the provision of information, support, and advocacy services to victims, witnesses, and their families throughout the criminal justice process.
Our goal is to support and assist victims and witnesses throughout the court process. Success comes from working together. Read Anna’s Story to understand the role we played for one victim both inside the courtroom and outside the courtroom.
Victim’s Right to Notification Services: Victims and witnesses have a right to be notified of court events and proceedings either verbally or in writing. Examples of such events may include an arraignment, postponements, hearings, trial dates, a case disposition, and appeals.
Victim’s Right to Allocution: Advocates provide information and assistance to victims regarding the right to make an oral or written Victim Impact Statement to the court prior to a case disposition. Statements may address the financial, physical, and psychological impact of the crime, as well as a recommendation for sentencing. Additionally, victims have a right to speak with the prosecutor handling the case. This can be facilitated through one of our advocates.
LEP (Limited English Proficiency) Policy: The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office will provide access to timely language assistance services to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP).
Additional Services may include:
Victim of Violent Crime Compensation: Advocates may assist you with your Victim of Violent Crime Application and answer any compensation/restitution questions you may have. Please feel free to contact us with your questions and concerns.
Crisis Intervention and Support: Advocates may offer assistance discussing safety options and locating resources and services. Advocates provide referrals to the best of his/her knowledge to meet a variety of victims’ and witnesses’ needs.
Education about the Criminal Justice System/Your Rights: The court system can be an intimidating, confusing, and frustrating experience. Our advocates and support staff will make sure that you understand the court process and that your rights under the Victim Bill of Rights (MGL, Ch. 258B) are respected.
Trial Preparation/In-Court Advocacy and Support: Advocates are present to provide in-court support throughout the entire court process. They also assist victims and witnesses in preparing for trial. An advocate is present in every court session to answer any questions you may have.
Victim Impact Statement Preparation: Under the Victim Bill of Rights, you have the right to be heard at sentencing in an oral or written statement about how the crime or assault has affected you. Advocates will work with you to prepare a statement that you feel is appropriate and meaningful.
Post-sentencing Services: Advocates will assist you in applying for CORI certification and making contact with the Parole Board. These services provide post-conviction information as well as updates on the status of any appellate review on your behalf.