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Victim Rights

RCW 7.69.030

Rights of victims, survivors, and witnesses

There shall be a reasonable effort made to ensure that victims, survivors of victims, and witnesses of crimes have the following rights, which apply to any criminal court and/or juvenile court proceeding:
(1) With respect to victims of violent or sex crimes, to receive, at the time of reporting the crime to law enforcement officials, a written statement of the rights of crime victims as provided in this chapter. The written statement shall include the name, address, and telephone number of a county or local crime victim/witness program, if such a crime victim/witness program exists in the county;
(2) To be informed by local law enforcement agencies or the prosecuting attorney of the final disposition of the case in which the victim, survivor, or witness is involved;
(3) To be notified by the party who issued the subpoena that a court proceeding to which they have been subpoenaed will not occur as scheduled, in order to save the person an unnecessary trip to court;
(4) To receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising out of cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts, and to be provided with information as to the level of protection available;
(5) To be informed of the procedure to be followed to apply for and receive any witness fees to which they are entitled;
(6) To be provided, whenever practical, a secure waiting area during court proceedings that does not require them to be in close proximity to defendants and families or friends of defendants;
(7) To have any stolen or other personal property expeditiously returned by law enforcement agencies or the superior court when no longer needed as evidence. When feasible, all such property, except weapons, currency, contraband, property subject to evidentiary analysis, and property of which ownership is disputed, shall be photographed and returned to the owner within ten days of being taken;
(8) To be provided with appropriate employer intercession services to ensure that employers of victims, survivors of victims, and witnesses of crime will cooperate with the criminal justice process in order to minimize an employee’s loss of pay and other benefits resulting from court appearance;
(9) To access to immediate medical assistance and not to be detained for an unreasonable length of time by a law enforcement agency before having such assistance administered. However, an employee of the law enforcement agency may, if necessary, accompany the person to a medical facility to question the person about the criminal incident if the questioning does not hinder the administration of medical assistance. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as defined in RCW 49.76.020, shall be notified of their right to reasonable leave from employment under chapter 49.76 RCW;
(10) With respect to victims of violent and sex crimes, to have a crime victim advocate from a crime victim/witness program, or any other support person of the victim’s choosing, present at any prosecutorial or defense interviews with the victim, and at any judicial proceedings related to criminal acts committed against the victim. This subsection applies if practical and if the presence of the crime victim advocate or support person does not cause any unnecessary delay in the investigation or prosecution of the case. The role of the crime victim advocate is to provide emotional support to the crime victim;
(11) With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to be physically present in court during trial, or if subpoenaed to testify, to be scheduled as early as practical in the proceedings in order to be physically present during trial after testifying and not to be excluded solely because they have testified;
(12) With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to be informed by the prosecuting attorney of the date, time, and place of the trial and of the sentencing hearing for felony convictions upon request by a victim or survivor;
(13) To submit a victim impact statement or report to the court, with the assistance of the prosecuting attorney if requested, which shall be included in all presentence reports and permanently included in the files and records accompanying the offender committed to the custody of a state agency or institution;
(14) With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to present a statement personally or by representation, at the sentencing hearing for felony convictions; and
(15) With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to entry of an order of restitution by the court in all felony cases, even when the offender is sentenced to confinement, unless extraordinary circumstances exist which make restitution inappropriate in the court’s judgment.

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Testimonials

"With the help of VSS, you are empowered and encouraged to fight back and be pro-active. Then your conscience can be more at peace because you know you have taken some action to protest crimes inflicted on your loved one. It is sometimes your only consolation."

“The one takeaway for me in working with VSS is that it is a necessary organization. I know they are funded by grants and fundraisers but it’s something we need to make sure as a community that they have the funding needed because what they do for people in need doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is the only place that this happens and VSS helps with so many things.”

David Rose

Anchor, Q13 News and Host, Washington’s Most Wanted

“VSS is there when the unthinkable happens.  When a police officer knocks on your door and gives you tragic news, VSS helps navigate the court system, which can be very confusing. VSS is compassion, caring, and commitment. Commitment to once justice is done that victims and their families can move forward with their lives.”

Mark Roe

Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney

“When we can have VSS there with us working with people so they are getting taken care of, you feel like the whole system and community is more responsive. VSS can actually really work with and bond with the victims in ways that we can’t because of the volume we deal with.”

Jennifer Gregerson

Mayor, City of Mukilteo

“VSS has been our partner in recovery and healing and a key part in what makes Mukilteo Strong. VSS has been a trusted advocate for the victims that have suffered so much in the community.  I’m so grateful to VSS as our partner in strength.”

Jon Nehring

Mayor, City of Marysville

“VSS is there for people in their darkest hour. At a time when they need an advocate and friend, VSS steps in to fill that gap and help them begin their journey back to some sense of normalcy.” 

Myrle Carner

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound

“This thing about closure. There is never really closure in a victim’s life but VSS helps individuals to get closer to that and that’s critical because the cops and the judicial system just move on to another case because they don’t have time. Victims live with this trauma forever so VSS is with them for as long as they need the services. VSS takes the time, more importantly, they really care."

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