Victim Input and Protection

Right to Remain in Courtroom

Victims have the right to remain in the courtroom during all court proceedings (bail or bond hearings, preliminary hearings, trials, etc.) that the defendant attends, unless the judge decides otherwise. If a victim is under the age of 18, the court may allow an adult chosen by the victim to remain in the courtroom for support.


Plea Agreements

Victims have the right to be informed of the contents of any plea agreements and may express their views about such plea agreements to the prosecutor. This opportunity must be requested in writing.


Parole Decisions

Crime victims who would like to have input into the process for parole eligible prisoners, may do so by contacting the VA Department of Corrections Victim Services Section, 6900 Atmore Drive, Richmond, VA 23225, 800-560-4292


Victim Impact Statements

After the defendant is found guilty, the judge may consider a written or oral Victim Impact Statement for while deciding the sentence. This statement gives the victim a chance to explain the impact of the crime. It is a chance to tell the Court how the crime has affected you, and about any changes that may have happened as a result of the crime.


Additional Information on Victim Impact Statements

Victim Impact Statements may be difficult to write, but they are a very important part of letting your voice be heard. A Victim Impact Statement can simply be a letter to the judge. As you write this letter, please consider the following:

1. It is not a “re-telling” of the facts of what happened, but a description of the impact on you or your family.

2. Have you been emotionally affected by this crime? If yes, you may wish to discuss how the crime may have affected relationships with others. If you received or are receiving any form of counseling, you may wish to mention this.

3. Were you physically injured or hurt as a result of this crime? If yes, you may wish to write about the type of injuries you had, what medical treatment you received or are receiving, and how long these injuries lasted or are expected to last.

4. How has this crime affected you, your family and those close to you? You may wish to write about changes that may have occurred in your family, in your ability to perform your work, make a living, run a household or enjoy any other activities you enjoyed before the crime.

5. Have you suffered any financial loss as a result of this crime? If so, you may wish to attach specific or itemized information about property loss/damage; deductibles which you had to pay; unreimbursed medical bills; and/or lost wages or income. Include a total requested amount in your letter.

6. Do you have any thoughts about the sentence you would like the judge to give the defendant? If you would like to request restitution or would like the judge to issue a “no-contact” order instructing the defendant to stay away from you and your family, please include this request in your letter.

Your letter/Victim Impact Statement should be signed; please do NOT include your address or phone number. MAIL or DELIVER your letter to your Victim Specialist. They can include the letter in material being gathered such as the Presentence Investigation (PSI) Report. After sentencing, the PSI will become a sealed part of the court records.


Victim and Witness Protections

Protecting victims and witness is essential for their own safety and healing, and for the integrity of justice. Protective resources include:

Protective Orders: A protective order is issued by a judge or magistrate to help protect a victim – or family or household member – from abuse. These orders prohibit the accused person from some or all contact with you.

Stalking Protective Orders: If you’re the victim of stalking, a judge or magistrate can issue an order prohibiting the person from contact with you.

Separate Waiting Areas: Separate waiting areas for victims and witnesses help provide privacy and protection from intimidation.