Advocates Role in the Criminal Justice System ~~~~~ Presented by: Sandi Matheson

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1 Advocates Role in the Criminal Justice System ~~~~~ Presented by: Sandi Matheson

2 Advocates Role in the Criminal Justice System OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this module participant will be able to: Understand the role and challenges of prosecution based advocates Explain how advocates help navigate victims through the Criminal Justice system

3 The Role of the Prosecution Based Advocate 2014 Maine/New Hampshire Victim Assistance Academy SANDRA MATHESON Office of Victim/Witness Assistance NH Attorney General s Office Objectives To understand the role of the prosecution based (Victim/Witness) Advocate To understand the advocate s role and responsibilities in helping victims navigate through the Criminal Justice System Federal Victim Witness Protection Act 1982 To enhance and protect the necessary role of crime victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process To assist victims, and witnesses of crime w/o infringing on the constitutional rights of defendants

4 NEW HAMPSHIRE CRIME VICTIM BILL OF RIGHTS 1991 VICTIMS HAVE THE RIGHT: To be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process. To be informed about the criminal justice process and how it progresses. To be free from intimidation and to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process. To be notified of all court proceedings. To attend trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend. To confer with the prosecution and to be consulted about the disposition of the case, including plea bargaining. To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized. To be notified if presence in court is not required. To be informed about available resources, financial assistance, and social services. To restitution or victim's compensation for their losses if eligible. To be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings. To be advised of case progress and final disposition. To confidentiality of the victim's address, place of employment, and other personal information. To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence. To have input in the probation pre sentence report impact statement. To appear and make a written or oral victim impact statement at the sentencing of the defendant. No victim shall be subject to questioning by counsel when giving an impact statement. To be notified of an appeal, an explanation of the appeal process, the time, place and result of the appeal, and the right to attend the appeal hearing. To be notified and to attend sentence review hearings and sentence reduction hearings. To be notified of any change of status such as prison release, permanent interstate transfer, or escape, and the date of the parole board hearing, when requested by the victim through the victim advocate. To address or submit a written statement for consideration by the parole board on the defendant's release and to be notified of the decision of the board, when requested by the victim through the victim advocate. To all federal and state constitutional rights guaranteed to all victims of crime on an equal basis, and notwithstanding the provisions of any laws on capital punishment, the right not to be discriminated against or have their rights as a victim denied, diminished, expanded, or enhanced on the basis of the victim's support for, opposition to, or neutrality on the death penalty. To access to restorative justice programs, including victiminitiated victim offender dialogue programs offered through the Department of Corrections. MAINE CRIME VICTIM RIGHTS 1995 Victims have the right: To be treated with dignity and respect To be assisted by criminal justice agencies To be informed about the criminal justice system. Whenever practicable, to be notified of plea agreements, and the right to comment on them, before they are brought before the Court Whenever practicable, to be notified of all judicial proceedings, including time and place of trial To speak before the Court at sentencing regarding the impact of the crime and the sentence to be imposed by the Court To request restitution To request compensation from the Victim Compensation Board To be notified of defendant's release from institutional confinement after serving a sentence in all felony cases upon request to DOC To be notified in Domestic violence cases when the defendant makes bail To be provided with a pamphlet containing certain statutes which pertain to victim's rights The Criminal Justice Process STATE V. ACCUSED V/W Advocates are vital to prosecution and law enforcement agencies as they bridge the gap between the criminal justice process and the victim.

5 Mission 1984 Maine first V/W advocate position 1985 NH first V/W advocate position To provide direct services, information, orientation and support to victims of crime to minimize the impact that the crime and the resulting involvement in the criminal justice system has on their lives, to ensure that their rights are protected and that they are treated with dignity and respect throughout. Different Roles V/W advocates play a different role in relationship to victims than community based (crisis center CC) advocates The better we understand the different goals, responsibilities and approaches, the better we can work together Lack of understanding encourages a lack of confidence in and suspicion of the system: V/W Advocates aren t really advocates they just work for the prosecution. False assumptions that may impede proper communication and therefore affect end results and more unnecessary trauma Focus Victim/Witness Advocates focus on education, information and notification about the system, helping them understand how their truth will impact the process/trial, and support them through the process. Crisis Center Advocates focus on listening to personal stories and providing support and empowerment through those stories and moving forward. Absolute truth is not the priority.

6 Confidentiality Both Maine and New Hampshire Crisis Center advocates have confidential communication with victims Maine Victim/Witness advocates have confidential communication New Hampshire Victim/Witness advocates do not have confidential communications Victim/Witness Advocate must have: A detailed understanding of each stage of the criminal justice process from a victim s initial report to law enforcement through sentencing and post conviction action. A thorough knowledge of court rules, victim rights, and the rights of the accused, in order to explain to a victim or family the status of a criminal case at any stage of the investigation or prosecution. Victim Witness Advocate Services Crisis Intervention and Support Assistance with Immediate Concerns Assistance with Victim Compensation & Restitution Media Coordination Orientation to the Criminal Justice System Employer, School, Landlord and Creditor Intervention Referrals Property Return Assistance Assistance with Victim Impact Statements Post Conviction Services Case Status and Disposition Court Advocacy Services

7 Role of Prosecution Based Advocates : After arrest Pre Trial Trial Post Conviction Pretrial Serve as a liaison between the victim and investigators/prosecutors Orient victims into criminal justice system explaining all aspects of the process Notify victims of all related hearing and trial dates and attends them with survivors Pretrial Keep victims updated on case status Review pleadings and motions with victims and explains ramifications of each ruling Represent the interests and concerns of the families to the prosecution team Set up meetings between victim and prosecutors

8 Trial Support victims through trial Preparing victims for specific testimony autopsy, photographs Schedule witness preparation meetings Locate and schedule witnesses including experts, law enforcement personnel and civilians Arrange for transportation/lodging for out of state witnesses Trial Alleviate fear of testifying, address individual concerns and attempt to assist them in being strong, confident and effective witnesses Assist with witness fees Employer, school or creditor intervention Assist with preparing victim impact statements Post Conviction Explain appeal process, and keep co victims updated on progress Explain sentence review process and keep covictims notified Assist co victims with property return

9 Post Conviction Arrange for inmate change of status and parole notification Notify victims of any sentence suspension motions, hearings and results Notify and attend parole hearings with co victims Explain appeal process, and keep survivors updated on progress Post Conviction Explain sentence review process and keep survivors notified Assist with property return Arrange for inmate change of status and parole notification Notify survivors of any sentence suspension motions, hearings and results Attend parole hearings with survivors NEW HAMPSHIRE Victim/Witness Advocates as Witnesses It is imperative that victim/witness advocates be in the courtroom to support the victim through the criminal justice process. RSA 516:7 a mandates that if a victim/witness advocate is called as a witness it is up to the defense to show cause why such victim/witness advocate s testimony is necessary. In no case shall a victim/witness advocate be sequestered unless the court finds and orders that based on the facts of the case, the failure to sequester would violate a defendant s rights. Victims are consider a party and are not sequestered out of the courtroom during trial.

10 Activity Scenarios Prosecution Based Advocacy 1) What are your roles and responsibilities as a prosecution based advocate? 2) What are some obstacles/ challenges that the prosecution based advocate faces? 3) Explore the expectations of the victim and the realities of the criminal justice system 7 22 Goal is to ensure that victims receive all case information and case facts directly not from media or other sources. Never say I UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL!!!!!!

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