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Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982

NCJ Number
Practical Lawyer Volume: 29 Dated: (January 15, 1981) Pages: 13-18
J Heinz
Date Published
6 pages
The Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 calls for a victim impact statement as part of the report filed with the sentencing judge; requires a Federal judge to consider and if reasonable, order restitution when passing sentence; and makes intimidation of or retaliation against a witness a Federal offense.
The Act requires that the presentence report include a victim impact statement which should assess the financial, social, psychological, and medical impact upon the victim and provide a full picture of the crime to the court. However, the statement need contain only information relevant to the sentencing process that is readily available and easily verified. The Act further authorizes the court to order restitution for any offense under Title 18 of the United States Code -other than the breach of the antitrust, securities, and certain other regulatory laws -- when the offense caused injury, death, or loss, damage, or destruction of property. The restitution should be made directly to the victim or to a person or organization designated by the victim. If the court does not order restitution, it must state its reasons for the record. The Act requires the Attorney General to develop guidelines for the fair treatment of crime victims and witnesses. The 'Son of Sam' provision of the Act requires the Attorney General to report to Congress within 1 year on the necessity of further legislation to ensure that, until the victim receives restitution, a Federal felon will not profit from the sale of his recollections that are related to any offense committed by him. The Act also makes intimidation of or retaliation against witnesses a Federal offense. The Act should help end the callous indifference that has marked the treatment of victims by the criminal justice system.