As a victim and/or witness to a crime the Massachusetts Bill of Rights affords you the following rights: *
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 in which You are Involved:
- Upon request, you have the right to be updated on significant developments in the case.
- You have the right to be notified in a timely manner of any changes in scheduling of 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 might 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 record on the offender.
- You have the right to be heard at any hearing 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 prosecution before the start of the 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 right to confer with the probation officer about the impact of the crime on you before the officer files a full presentence 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 to receive a copy of the offender's schedule of restitution payments.
- You have the right to have any personal property held for evidence returned as soon as the property is no longer needed for prosecution purposes.
- 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 Status:
- Upon request, 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 offender's parole eligibility.
- You may be eligible to get information about the offender, such as a criminal record of the offender's compliance with the terms of a sentence.
The Right to Other Protections in the Criminal Justice System:
- You have the right to request confidentiality for yourself and your family members during the court proceedings for personal information, including home address, telephone number, school, and place of employment.
- You have the right to protection by law enforcement from harm or threats of harm as a result of your cooperation with the court process.
- You have the right to a safe waiting area which is separate from the defendant and the defendant's family during court proceedings.
- You have the right to a prompt disposition of the case in which you are involved.
- 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 prosecutor's office if the crime or your involvement in the court process causes problems with an employer or in meeting financial obligations.
* Each of the above listed rights are available under the Victim Bill of Rights and by law are provided to the greatest extent possible but are subject to and dependent upon funding and available resources.