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Massachusetts law about victims and witnesses of crimes

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on victims and witnesses of crimes law.

Table of Contents

Best bet

The Aftermath of Crime Guidebook,  Mass. Office of Victim Assistance 
This comprehensive (136-page) guide covers: Trauma and the Healing Process, Seeking Justice through the Criminal Justice System, Victims and the Prosecution Process, Post Disposition Services for Victims, Financial Remedies for Victims of Crimes, and information for advocates.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 6, s.178A Right of victim of crime, witness or family member of homicide victim to obtain criminal offender record information of person accused or convicted; disclosure of other information by criminal justice agencies

MGL c.10, s.66 Victims of Drunk Driving Fund

MGL c.12, s.11K Crime Victim Compensation Division

MGL c.258B Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime

MGL c.258C Victim Compensation.

MGL c.263A Witness Protection

MGL c.268, s.13B Intimidation of witness, jurors and persons furnishing information in connection with criminal proceedings

Massachusetts regulations

120 CMR 400 Victim Input and Notification of Parole Hearings and Decisions

120 CMR 401 Victim Access Hearings

803 CMR 9 Victim Notification Registry

940 CMR 14 Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes

Federal laws

18 USC 3771 Crime Victims' Rights Act

Selected case law

Commonwealth v. Gonsalves , 445 Mass. 1 (2005)
Victim/Witness Statements. Most statements given to police investigating a crime may not be used at trial unless the witness can be cross-examined.

Commonwealth v. McGonagle, 478 Mass. 678 (2018)
"We all stand equal before the bar of justice, and it is neither cruel nor unusual or irrational, nor is it violative of a defendant's due process guarantees, for a judge to listen with intensity to the perspective of a crime victim" when making a sentencing decision.

Commonwealth v. Potter, 39 Mass. App. Ct. 924 (1995)
Intimidation of witness

Commonwealth v. Torres, 479 Mass. 641 (2018)
Victim compensation records are  subject to normal discovery rules for confidential, third-party records

State agencies

Mass. Attorney GeneralVictim and Witness Assistance
Informs victims of their rights and administers the victim compensation program.

Mass. Office of Victim Assistance
"MOVA staff offers crisis intervention and short term counseling, referrals to appropriate programs and service providers, and information and advocacy to help victims better understand the criminal justice system."

Web sources

Application for Crime Victim's Compensation, Mass. Attorney General 
Describes victim compensation services, including who is eligible, what expenses are covered, and how to apply

CLAVC: Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime.
"Do you have legal problems as a result of this crime — such as a need for a divorce or child support, getting your credit fixed, a housing eviction or problems getting disability or other public benefits?...Contact the CLAVC legal aid program that serves your town to apply for free legal help today."

Office for Victims of Crime 
"OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance and publications and products to victim assistance professionals."

Representing Victims of Human Trafficking in Massachusetts. A Guide for Attorneys, Dara Goodman, Stephanie Neely, and Michaela Sewall, WilmerHale. 2013

Victim Rights Law Center
"The Victim Rights Law Center provides free, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault victims with legal issues in Massachusetts and Oregon in the areas of privacy, safety, housing, education, employment, immigration, and financial stability."

Victim-Witness Reference Manual, Mass. District Attorneys Ass'n., 2010. 
"Victim-witness advocates are professionals trained to support crime victims and witnesses. ... Advocates have a duty to make sure that victims and witness get what they are entitled to. Advocates also must ensure that all victims and witnesses are treated with compassion, dignity and fairness." This lengthy (over 200-page) guide provides everything an advocate might need to know.

Print sources

Crime Victim's Guide to Justice , Sphinx, 2008

Mass. Practice, v.37, Tort Law , West Group, with supplement. 
Section 1.5 Victims of violent crimes

Special Witnesses at Criminal Trials , MCLE, 2009



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: June 18, 2018


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