Navigating the court process in the aftermath of a crime can be intimidating, frustrating and frightening. Essex Victim Witness advocates are on hand to assist victims and witness with understanding what is happening, knowing when to appear and knowing what to expect. Further, these Advocates provide support and can provide referrals to agencies that can assist an individual cope with their feelings related to their victimization.
The following is some general information that would be pertinent for most victims and witnesses. However, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact the victim witness advocate assigned to your case.
If You are Summonsed to Court
A summons or subpoena is a court order directing you to appear in court at a stated time and place. If you receive a summons, you must follow all instructions. Failure to appear could result in the issuance of an arrest warrant. Bring the summons with you when you appear on the required day, and report to the District Attorney's Office in the appropriate courthouse. If you have any questions concerning your summons prior to the appearance date, please call the District Attorney's Office.
Victim Impact Statement
The Victim Rights Law (M.G.L. c. 258B) provides crime victims and their family members with important rights, including the right to make a victim impact statement to the judge at the sentencing of the defendant. This statement can be written or oral. The statement allows the victim or their family to explain to the Judge the physical, emotional and financial impact of the crime and may include a recommendation for sentencing of the defendant.
Victim Witness Advocates are available in the district courts and in the District Attorney's Main Office to answer questions or concerns that victims and their families may have when preparing this statement.
Post Conviction Services
There are numerous agencies that provide services to victims once the offender is convicted. Victim Witness Advocates are available to advise victims of these agencies and to assist them in completing any necessary paperwork as well as to refer them to agencies that provide healing and support.
Crime victims and family members of homicide victims have a right to be notified if the offender is released, moved to a different facility, or has escaped. To be notified, it is necessary to submit an application for Notice of Release to the Criminal History Systems Board. Victim Witness Advocates can assist you with this process. Once certified, the agency that has custody of the offender will notify the victim through its own victim services unit. Victim Witness Advocates work with advocates in these agencies including Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Criminal History Systems Board, and the Parole Board to ensure that you received these notification services.