Victim Witness Services
Anne Foley, Bureau Chief
The primary goal of the Victim Witness Bureau is to reduce the level of secondary injury associated with the aftermath of crime; and, to aid in the prosecution of criminal cases by ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are provided with the entitlements and services mandated by the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights (M.G.L. c. 258B) and those additional services provided as a policy of the Bureau within the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney.
The Victim Witness Services Bureau provides information and support through the court process to victims and witnesses of crime. Victim Witness Advocates provide support to victims of violent crimes. Services also are provided to family members of child victims and to survivors of homicide victims
Our services include assistance in filing 258E Harassment Prevention Orders, please see the 258E Fact Sheet and Eligibility for Harassment Restraining Orders to determine if such an order may be of help to you. We also provide assistance for victims of domestic violence in filing for abuse prevention orders (209 A restraining orders). Our Understanding Restraining Orders Pamphlet explains the protection available and how to apply.
Advocates provide information about victim rights and referrals to community resources. Those rights and services are detailed in the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights; Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 258B. The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights
Victim and Witness Assistance
We understand this may be your first experience with the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system can be confusing and difficult to navigate; Victim Witness Advocates can explain the court process and offer support and guidance. Protecting your rights as a victim or witness of crime is the most important job we do. To help you understand the court system and the role expected of you as a victim or witness is explained in our Guide for Victims and Witnesses .You may not be familiar with some of the legal terms you may hear in the court process; we have included a Criminal Justice Glossary that you may find helpful.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Victim Witness Services Bureau is dedicated to ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are provided with the entitlements and services mandated by the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights. The Victim Bill of Rights ensures victims and witnesses of crime have (1) the right to be informed, (2) the right to be present, (3) the right to be heard.
Victim Witness Advocates are available in each of the district courts in Middlesex. A directory of the court locations in Middlesex Specialized advocates are assigned to the Superior Court, Child Abuse, Elder and Disabled Abuse and Appeals and the Domestic Violence Unit.
Victim Witness Advocates provide assistance with the following services:
Victims' Right to Be Informed.
- Provide written and verbal notification to victims and witnesses.
- This notification process includes, but is not limited to the following: arrest, arraignment, conferences, and motions, bind over hearings, grand jury, trials, defaults, dispositions, restitution hearings, sentencing and appeals.
- The advocate will provide notification to victims and witnesses of cancelations and rescheduling either written or verbally depending on the amount of notice that the advocate is given.
Victims' Right to Be Present.
- The Victim Bill of Rights gives victims the right to be present during most court proceedings, including, at the judges' discretion juvenile 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.
Victims' Right to Be Heard.
- The victim witness advocate shall provide information and assistance regarding the right to make an oral or written victim impact statement to the court prior to case disposition in compliance with the guidelines of M.G.L. c. 258B. The statement may address the financial, physical, and psychological impact of the crime, as well as recommendation regarding sentencing. The victim witness advocate shall also assist with the preparation of the Victim Impact Statement prepared and presented by the Assistant District Attorney to the court. Victim Impact Statement Form
Additional Victim Services.
- Provide information and assistance regarding:
- The level of protection available from local law enforcement agencies regarding harm or threatened harm due to cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution.
- Filing with the appropriate law enforcement, correctional or parole agency in order to receive notification whenever the defendant is released or escapes from custody.
- Link to the Criminal History Board for Information CHB Victim Services Overview
- Applications Victim Services Unit Forms
- If you need help with the application please contact your Victim Witness Advocate
- Documentation of losses and expenses, and the right to request restitution as an element of case disposition. Restitution Information & Worksheet
- Documentation of losses and expenses, and assistance with filing a claim of compensation for victims of violent crimes where applicable.
- Information and applications for Victims Compensation Fund. Victims of Violent Crime Compensation
- If you need help with the application please contact your Victim Witness Advocate.
- Application for witness fees.
- Referral for family support services, including child and other dependent care services
- Referral for social services, including financial aid resources, shelters, mental health.
- Useful Resources for Victims and Witnesses:
- Employer and creditor intercession.
- Expedited return of property.
- Secure waiting areas during court proceedings where available.
- Provisions of direct services to victims and witnesses in addition to those enumerated in M.G.L. c. 258B.
Crisis intervention for victims and family members of victims who are in crisis as a result of their victimization.
- Assessment and evaluation of victim needs, and assistance with referrals for appropriate services, including such services as shelter, mental health counseling, peer support groups, emergency financial assistance, protection and relocation.
- Orientation to court process for victims' family members, witnesses, and explanation of court procedures.
- Accompaniment to court for victims and witnesses in cases that have been determined to be priority cases by the Victim Witness Bureau.
- Supportive counseling, on a short-term basis to victims, family members, and witnesses, regarding the issue of victimization and regarding their role in the court process.
- Intervention with other components of the criminal justice system, law enforcement agencies, court personnel, probation departments.
- Inform victims post disposition rights and victim services.