DISTRICT ATTORNEY RECOGNIZES OBSERVANCE OF CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS WEEK

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District Attorney Scott Thomas

N.C. Prosecutorial District 4 (Carteret, Craven, Pamlico Counties) – District Attorney Scott Thomas announces the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – April 7 through April 13, 2019 – and provides the following information to the community to assist in understanding the national and state commitment to the rights of victims of crime, and to promote efforts to assure crime victims of the efforts put forth in addressing the aftermath of crime.

District Attorney Scott Thomas provided his thoughts on this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and his commitment to protecting the rights of crime victims:  “As District Attorney, it is my duty to prosecute criminal cases on behalf of  the State and to seek justice for victims of crime. My staff and I work with victims,  their families, and law enforcement to effectively prosecute these cases. The rights of crime victims must be protected.  We treat crime victims with the same respect we  would expect for ourselves or members of our own families. I hope all citizens will join me in observing the rights of crime victims this week and throughout the year.”

District Attorney Thomas is also past President of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, the statewide organization representing all District Attorneys. He is a past recipient of the North Carolina Victims Assistance Network Political  Action Award “for outstanding commitment and dedication to improving victims’ rights.”


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Every year in April, communities throughout the country observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme — Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future. – encourages commemoration, honor, and respect toward the crime victim advocates, allied professionals, and selfless volunteers who have courageously worked for increased rights for crime victims. The theme also invites all of us to look toward a future  of  inclusive,  accessible,  and  innovative  resources  and  services  for  survivors.

District Attorney Scott Thomas recognizes the annual event in Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico counties, by raising awareness of victims’ rights and services, celebrating progress achieved, and honoring victims and the professionals who serve them.

On November 6, 2018, North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment, commonly referred to as “Marsy’s Law,” which included the following victim protections:

    • informing victims and their families about their rights and the services available to them,
    • giving them the right to receive notification of proceedings and major developments in a criminal case,
    • protecting their safety by notifying them in a timely manner regarding changes to the offender’s custodial status,
    • allowing victims and their families to exercise their right to be present – and heard – at court proceedings, and
    • providing input to the prosecutor before the disposition is finalized.

The North Carolina Constitution was also amended in 1996 to provide  specifically for a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights,” which is now found in Article I, Section 37:

— Basic Rights. Victims of crime, as prescribed by law, shall be entitled to the following basic rights:

      1. a. The right as prescribed by law to be informed of and to be present at court proceedings of the accused.
      1. b. The right to be heard at sentencing of the accused in a manner prescribed by law, and at other times as prescribed by law or deemed  appropriate by the court.
      1. c. The right as prescribed by law to receive restitution.
      1. d. The right as prescribed by law to be given information about the crime, how the criminal justice system works, the rights of victims, and the availability of services for victims.
      1. e. The right as prescribed by law to receive information about the conviction or final disposition and sentence of the accused.
      1. f. The right as prescribed by law to receive notification of escape, release, proposed parole or pardon of the accused, or notice of a reprieve or commutation of the accused’s sentence.
      2. g. The right as prescribed by law to present their views and concerns to the Governor or agency considering any action that could result in the release of the accused, prior to such action becoming effective.
      1. h. The right as prescribed by law to confer with the prosecution.

In North Carolina, a District Attorney (DA) is the elected public official who represents the State in the prosecution of all criminal matters. The district attorney supervises a staff of assistant district attorneys (ADA), victim witness legal assistants (VWLA), and other administrative employees. A district attorney’s primary  responsibility, with his or her assistants, is to prosecute all criminal cases filed in District and Superior Courts, to prepare the criminal trial docket, and to advise local law enforcement.

District Attorneys also take a number of actions to assist crime victims. The District Attorney has the following responsibilities, among others: to provide the victim, by means of a pamphlet or other written material, an explanation of: the victim’s rights, the workings of the court and the function of court personnel, the victim’s eligibility to receive compensation under the Crime Victims Compensation Act, and contact information for the prosecutor and legal assistants within the District Attorney’s office; to confer with the victim to obtain victim impact information, and to get the victim’s input on the prosecution; to notify victims of a crime of all court dates, if the victim so  requests; and to provide to the Court evidence of the impact of the crime on the victim and the victim’s family, whether physical, psychological, or economic.

The District Attorney’s Office also provides crime victims with information about registering with the NC Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification program (NC SAVAN), a system overseen by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Individuals may call the toll-free number, 877-NC SAVAN, (877) 627-2826, to learn about an offender’s status, to register for offender notification or to learn about victim assistance resources in their area. Notifications are provided in English or  Spanish, and translation services are available for more than 100 languages, and can be provided by phone call, text message, or email. A search for in-custody offenders is also available at www.vinelink.com, which is affiliated with the NC SAVAN program.

For further information, please consult the North Carolina Department of Justice website, www.ncdoj.gov, and the U.S. Department of Justice website, www.usdoj.gov.