Victim/Witness Unit

Victim/Witness Unit

The Victim/Witness Unit Coordinator Kimberly Silvestri and her staff provide numerous services to victims, significant others and witnesses in new and continuing cases in the criminal justice system.

 A victim is defined as “an individual against whom a crime has been committed or attempted.” This also includes any family member of a homicide victim except where the family member is the alleged offender. Significant others are those affected by the victimization and may include family members such as parents of child victims or witnesses to the crime.      

The Unit provides the following services:   

  • Notifying victims of defendants’ sentencing dates
  • Keeping victims updated on appeals
  • Notifying victims when parole is being considered
  • Identifying services needed and working with individuals and agencies, including the courts, attorneys, counseling services, employers, schools and victims compensation
  • Providing court accompaniment
  • Assisting clients with restitution calculation and claims
  • Helping victims to write victim impact statements
  • Notifying victims of the availability of inmate release notification through the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate and Pennsylvania’s Automated Victim Notification System

Victim/Witness Management Services can span years as services are provided before trial, during court hearings, and after sentencing. While the unit serves new victims as cases enter the system, it also continues to offer services to victims of crimes that have occurred in the past.

The unit constantly engages in training in order to provide the most effective assistance to the individuals with whom they deal.The training includes such topics as changes and new legislation related to victims’ rights, updates and changes to restitution rulings, elder abuse issues and LGBT issues.

The District Attorney’s Office has a victim/witness waiting area that is a safe, separate space to protect confidentiality and keep victims and offenders apart. There victims and witnesses are interviewed and are able to wait prior to court appearances.

The Victim/Witness Unit received a courthouse companion dog, “Ramona,” in 2017. This addition to the staff helps provide emotional comfort and support to victims of crime when dealing with the stressors of the judicial system.

                       

Links to Additional Information:   

  • TheVictim/Witness Handbook provides additional information about services, the court system, and rights of victims and witnesses.