U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
ATTORNEY GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR
VICTIM AND WITNESS ASSISTANCE
Becoming a crime victim or witness is a life-shattering event that affects millions of Americans.
The experience can destroy a person’s sense of safety and security and cause devastating harm
that is often difficult to heal. Criminal justice system personnel have a special responsibility to
treat crime victims and witnesses fairly by enforcing their rights, properly including them in
criminal justice system processes, making referrals to appropriate services, and holding
For too long, the criminal justice system has overlooked the rights and needs of crime victims
and witnesses. In recent years, however, new Federal and State laws have sought to improve the
treatment of crime victims and address their concerns.
We are constantly learning about better ways to assist crime victims and witnesses. This new
version of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance incorporates that
knowledge, includes recent legislative changes, and addresses a new opinion by the Office of
Legal Counsel regarding the mandatory nature of some provisions.
The Guidelines reflect my strong belief that victims should play a central role in the criminal
justice system and my commitment that all components of the United States Department of
Justice respond to crime victims with compassion, fairness, and respect, in accordance with the
letter and spirit of the law.
Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance
he Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance (2000 ed.)
was developed by the Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General’s
Victims’ Rights Working Group, which includes representatives from the
Office of the Deputy Attorney General, Office of Policy Development, Office of
Legal Counsel, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Office of Inspec