The Victim Witness Assistance program of the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office was developed in response to the growing need for victim advocacy throughout the county. The purpose of the program is to provide a variety of court related and social services designed to meet the needs of crime victims, their families, and witnesses of crime. Victim Advocates offer assistance with every stage involved in the criminal court system, including explanation of criminal court procedures, court accompaniment, assistance with restitution claims and victim impact statements, property releases and assistance with filing application to the NYS Crime Victims Board for financial compensation for crime related expenses. Advocates also provide short term counseling and referrals to the various social services agencies throughout the Schenectady County.
Crime Victims Rights
- The Right to Compensation and Assistance. Victims may be eligible for compensation from the NYS Crime Victims Board for out of state expenses incurred as a result of the crime. These expenses may include the repaid/replacement of damaged property, loss of earnings or support, medical bills, crime scene cleanup, counseling or funeral bills.
- The Right to be Notified of Judicial Proceedings. If you have provided a current address and telephone number to the appropriate official, you have the right to be notified of the accused's arrest, first appearance before the judge, release from jail while the criminal proceeding is pending, entry of a guilty plea, trial, sentencing and maximum and minimum terms of imprisonment if the defendant is sentenced to prison.
- Your Right to be Free From Intimidation. Crime victims have the right to be protected from tampering, threats, physical injury or other kinds of intimidation.
- The Right to Submit a Victim Impact Statement. When a proposed sentence contains probation or more than ninety days imprisonment, a pre-sentence investigation report may contain a victim impact statement. In this statement, crime victims may summarize their version of the offense, the extent of their injuries, financial losses they have incurred as the result of the crime and how the crime has affected their lives and their families. Victims have the right to present this statement in person at the defendant's sentencing.
- The Right to Restitution. Crime victims have the right to request restitution and have their restitution claims presented to the county by the District Attorney.
- The General Rights of Crime Victims. Crime victims have the right to a copy of the police report and the prompt return of property held for evidence (unless there is a compelling reason for holding it).