The rights of victims and witnesses in Massachusetts criminal proceedings are set forth in M.G.L. c. 258B, Section 3. These rights include, but are not limited to, the following:

For victims,

  • to be informed about the case’s progress and to receive periodic updates, if requested;
  • to be present at all court proceedings;
  • to be informed about financial assistance and other social services available to victims;
  • to speak with the prosecutor before trial, disposition, or sentencing;
  • to speak with the probation officer before he or she files a presentence report;
  • to request restitution as part of the case’s final disposition;
  • to be heard, either in person or through a written statement, by the court prior to sentencing or disposition;
  • to be notified by the prosecution if/when there is a disposition in the case;
  • to have property that was taken as evidence returned within ten days or “as expeditiously as possible” after the property is no longer needed for the case;
  • to be informed of the defendant’s parole status or eligibility;
  • to be notified if/when the defendant is released from custody;
  • to be informed by the prosecutor if there may be grounds to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant.

For victims and witnesses,

  • to receive protection from law enforcement when needed due to participation in the case;
  • to have a prompt disposition of the case;
  • to be notified of their right to request confidentially to the extent permissible by law;
  • to be provided with a secure waiting room, away from the defendant and his attorney, inside the courthouse;
  • to be informed by the prosecutor of any witness fees that maybe available;
  • to be provided with employer or creditor “intercession services” when appropriate;
  • to be protect against threats or acts taken by an employer due to absence from work due to a subpoena to appear in court;
  • to be informed of the right to decline an interview with defense counsel or his investigator.

The statute describes these rights as “basic and fundamental” though “priority for services [will be] provided to victims of crimes against the person and crimes where physical injury to a person results.”