Victim Witness Services
Anne Foley, Chief
Victim Witness Advocates are assigned to work with assistant district attorneys in all of Middlesex County’s superior, district, and juvenile courts. In addition, specialized advocates are assigned to the Child Protection Unit, Elder and Disabled Persons Protection Unit, Appeals Bureau, Homicide and Unsolved Unit and the Domestic Violence Program.
These compassionate and dedicated professionals are an integral part of the prosecution team. Advocates work with those impacted by crime, guiding them through the criminal justice system, accompanying them to interviews and hearings, and ensuring that they are aware of their rights. Advocates also provide referrals to community resources, including emergency shelter and rape crisis counseling.
The criminal justice system can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Advocates explain the court process and offer support, and informs you of the role expected of you as a victim or witness. Here is a glossary of terms you may find helpful as you navigate the criminal justice system.
Abuse Prevention Orders
Victim witness advocates help victims of stalking and harassment file Harassment Prevention Orders. For information about these orders, please see the 258E Fact Sheet and Eligibility for Harassment Restraining Orders.
Advocates also provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and educate them about abuse prevention orders, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209A. The Middlesex District Attorney's brochure, Understanding Restraining Orders, explains the protection available and how to apply.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Victim Witness Services Bureau is dedicated to ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are aware of their important entitlements and services mandated by the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights. The Victim Bill of Rights, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 258B, mandates that victims and witnesses of crime have:
1. The Right to Be Informed.
- Victim Witness Advocates provide written and verbal notification to victims and witnesses about the status of their cases and the dates of scheduled court hearings.
- This notification process includes, arrest, arraignment, dangerousness hearings, pre-trial conferences, motions, probable cause hearings, grand jury, trials, defaults, dispositions, restitution hearings, sentencing and appeals.
- Advocates notify victims and witnesses of cancelations and rescheduling either written or verbally depending on the amount of notice that the advocate is given.
2. The Right to Be Present.
- Victims have the right to be present during most court proceedings. The judge may only exclude the victim or a family member when the victim or a family member is scheduled to testify, and the judge determines that hearing the testimony of other witnesses could influence the person's testimony.
3. The Right to Be Heard.
- Victims have the right to make an oral or written Victim Impact Statement to the sentencing Judge. The statement may address the financial, physical, and psychological impact of the crime, as well as a sentencing recommendation. The Victim Witness Advocate can assist with the preparation of the Victim Impact Statement prepared and presented by the Assistant District Attorney to the court. A Victim Impact Statement Form is attached.
Victim Witness Advocates also provide information and assistance regarding:
- Police protection that may be available due to harm or threatened harm as a result of cooperation with law enforcement and the prosecution.
- How to receive notification whenever the defendant posts bail, is released from custody, or escapes. Link to the Criminal History Board for Information CHB Victim Services Overview. Link to applications for Victim Services Unit Forms.
- How to recoup losses and expenses incurred as a result of the crime. See Restitution Information & Worksheet,
- Assistance with filing a claim of compensation for victims of violent crimes. Information and applications for Victims Compensation Fund. Link to Victims of Violent Crime Compensation.
- How to collect witness fees.
- Referrals for family support services, including child and other dependent care services.
- Referral for social services, including financial aid resources, shelters, and counseling.
- Information about employer and creditor intercession.
- How to get an expedited return of property.
- Where to find a secure waiting area during court proceedings.