As a victim, you do not have go through the criminal proceeding process alone. Through our Victim/Witness Services Bureau, direct services available to crime victims, witnesses and/or their family members include, but are not limited to:
- Court accompaniment to court proceedings and meetings with prosecutors and police
- Advocacy, emotional support, safety planning & crisis intervention
- Follow-up support and case status updates
- Education about court proceedings, correctional process, and your rights as a crime victim
- Assistance with the completion and processing of eligible crime victims’ compensation claims for the New York State Office of Victim Services
- Information and referrals to outside agencies for other needs.
- Training and outreach to the community, professionals and law enforcement
- Non-court related services to victims whose crime does not result in an arrest and involvement in the court process.
- Bi-lingual, Spanish-speaking advocates available and access to interpreters for other languages.
Our Advocates support all crime victims, but have specialized experience and training to assist:
- Homicide survivors and families of the deceased
- Child victims of sexual abuse
- Domestic/Intimate partner violence
- Victims of violent felony crimes
- Vehicular crime victims/survivors
- Elder Abuse/Special Victims
- Victims of financial crimes
New York State Crime Victims Compensation
Acting as a liaison between the crime victim and the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS), Victim/Witness staff provide information and claim application assistance to victims in preparing compensation claims to OVS.
OVS offers compensation related to personal injury, death and loss of essential personal property. As the payer of last resort, OVS will compensate for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance or other resources.
For eligibility requirements, compensation categories and compensation claim forms, please refer to the link for the NYS OVS or contact the Victim/Witness Bureau at (716) 858-4640 to have one of our advocates help you file a claim.
Court Preparation, Accompaniment and Support
Victim/Witness Services staff are available to accompany victims to any court in Erie County including New York State Supreme Court, Erie County Court, Buffalo City Court and city/town/village justice courts.
Prior to the court appearance, Victim/Witness Services staff briefs victims(witnesses) concerning court procedures, provides moral support and answers any questions that may arise including an explanation of procedures and terminology.
During accompaniment to the courtroom, staff notify the assigned Assistant District Attorney that the victim(witness) is present. The Assistant District Attorney and victim(witness) may wish to speak to each other prior to the start of the proceedings and/or afterwards.
Staff remain with the victim(witness) throughout the court proceedings to help relieve the trauma often associated with being in the presence of the perpetrator as well as being in the courtroom environment. During the proceedings, staff continue to provide information as well as support and guidance.
At the conclusion of each appearance, staff will remain with the victim(witness) and/or family to provide additional information and support at this time.
Victim Impact Statements
As provided for in Section 390.30 of the Criminal Procedure Law, victims are entitled to submit a Victim Impact Statement (letter/s) to the presiding judge, prior to sentencing. Victim Impact Statements often include information regarding the physical, financial, emotional and/or spiritual impact of the crime. It may also include the victims input regarding sentencing.
Victim/Witness Services staff distribute information and guidelines regarding statements and their content.
Victim/Witness Services staff assist victims with the compilation, copying, distribution and submission of Victim Impact Statements.
Furthermore, should the victim or survivor(of specific crimes only) wish to make an oral statement in open court prior to the sentence being imposed, Victim/Witness Services staff can provide information and assistance regarding necessary requirements to do so.
Social and Crisis Service Agency Referrals
If referrals to outside agencies are appropriate, there is a comprehensive network of agencies and programs in Buffalo and Erie County available to provide specialized assistance in the areas of housing, relocation, counseling, emergency food and clothing, shelters, and other health and human services.
Victim/Witness Services staff provides referral agency information to victims as needed.
Home/Hospital/Off Site Visits
Home/Off Site visits are arranged for the elderly, disabled and others who are physically and/or emotionally unable to leave their homes. When necessary, hospital visits are also provided to ensure that hospitalized victims receive assistance as well.
Correctional Process Advocacy
Victim/Witness Services staff provide information, guidance and support to the victim/survivor regarding the defendant in their case proceeding through either the probation, prison and/or parole process.