Victim Witness Program
The purpose of this program is to assist both crime victims and witnesses through the criminal justice system and to provide services required by Virginia’s Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act. The role of a victim or witness in the criminal justice system is vital to bringing a case before the court.
The Henry County Victim/Witness Assistance Program has been in existence since 1985 and is supported by federal funds available to Virginia through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), special funds available through the Crime Victim/Witness Fund, and Henry County. All grant funded programs must provide information and assistance to crime victims as required by Virginia’s Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act.
The purpose of this law is to ensure that victims and witnesses of crime:
- Are informed of their rights
- Are treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity and that their privacy is protected where the law allows
- Receive authorized services
- Have opportunity to make the courts aware of the full impact of the crime
- Have the opportunity to be heard at critical stages of the criminal justice process.
Services Provided by the Victim / Witness Program
- Distribution of preprinted materials – brochures on Virginia’s Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act; Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund; and Victim Impact Statements.
- Explanation of victims’ rights regarding protection, financial assistance and social services, notices, victim input and courtroom assistance; and witnesses’ rights regarding protection, employer services, confidentiality and interpreter services.
- Assist victims and witnesses in obtaining available protection from the appropriate authorities, and obtaining the issuance of protective orders for victims of abuse and victims of stalking. Providing victims and witnesses with a separate waiting area in the Courthouse.
- Assist victims in applying for crime victims’ compensation by filing claims for medical and funeral expenses with Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund for those victims that qualify.
- Assist victims in retrieving any property being held for evidentiary purposes.
- Assist victims and witnesses in seeking reimbursement for traveling from out of town to court for criminal cases.
- Assist victims in seeking and securing restitution by completing the Victim Impact Statement. The Victim Impact Statements gives the victim the opportunity in writing to tell the court how the crime has affected them and in determining the amount of restitution for property stolen or damaged, and for medical or funeral expenses.
- Intercede with employers of victims and witnesses to ensure their cooperation with the criminal justice process in order to minimize the employee’s loss of pay and other benefits due to court appearances.
- Assist victims in completing notification request forms to ensure they are notified of all court proceedings.
- Assist victims in completing notification request forms to local jails and state correctional facilities in regard to prisoner status.
- Assist victims in completing notification forms with the Attorney General’s Office to be contacted when an appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals is granted, and when a habeas corpus petition has been filed.
- Assist victims and witnesses in completing confidentiality request forms to request the courts, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the Department of Corrections not disclose their home address, telephone number or place of employment.
- Assist in obtaining the services of a qualified interpreter if the victim or witness cannot speak English or are hearing impaired.
- Assist victims by providing names, addresses and phone numbers of appropriate agencies that offer counseling and support groups.
- Accompany victims to court; assist victims in cases of sexual assault, to ensure the preliminary hearing may be closed to the public; provide courtroom tours; explanation of the criminal justice process; and final disposition of the case.
Robin D. Byrd