Information for Victims
As an agency
of federal law enforcement professionals, the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service is concerned about problems that may be experienced
by victims of crime. We know that, as a victim or witness,
you may feel anger, confusion, frustration, or fear as a result
of your experience.
below may help you deal with problems and questions that may
surface during an investigation and to provide you with a better
understanding of the criminal justice system. We have included
information and services available to you as a victim or witness.
We hope this
information will be helpful. We encourage you to contact the
Postal Inspector handling your case or your Victim/Witness
Coordinator if you have further questions.
the days and months ahead may be difficult for you and your
family, your assistance is important to ensure that justice
investigation, you will be informed of the status of the case.
Throughout the investigation, a Postal Inspector or Victim/Witness
Coordinator will remain your primary contact. If you have questions,
be sure to contact one of these individuals as soon as possible.
A criminal investigation can be complex and lengthy. It may
involve several federal and local agencies.
your interests are important to us. We are here to help answer
any questions you may have.
If your case
is accepted for prosecution, you will be contacted by the attorney’s
office assigned to handle your case. Most prosecutors’ offices
have a Victim/Witness Coordinator to help answer your questions
and assist with your concerns during the pretrial and court
phases of the case.
If You Are
Threatened or Harassed
If anyone threatens you, or you feel
you are being harassed because of your cooperation with authorities,
report it to your Postal Inspector. There are penalties for
harassment and other threats. The Inspector may discuss protective
measures with you. If you feel you are in immediate danger,
If you were injured or threatened with physical injury
as a result of the crime, and lack insurance or other means
to pay for medical bills, check your state’s crime victim compensation
program. In many states, the cost of counseling, lost wages,
and certain funeral expenses may be covered.
The law varies
by state, but your Victim/Witness Coordinator can provide you
with the necessary information.
If You Had
As part of its investigation, the Postal Inspection
Service hopes to recover any property or money stolen from
you. If we recover it, we will notify you and make every effort
to have it returned as quickly as possible. Restitution may
be available for property not recovered or for the cost of
any necessary repairs.
With Your Employer
Upon request, during the investigation and
court processing, we can call your employer to discuss the
importance of your role as a victim or witness to the government’s
case and to explain any absences you may need to take from
If a person is arrested and successfully prosecuted in your
case, you may be eligible for restitution. This is a court-ordered
payment made to you as a victim of a crime. Upon conviction,
the offender pays out-of-pocket expenses resulting from your
If the court
orders restitution at sentencing, it may consider the offender’s
present and future ability to pay. If the defendant has assets,
the court may order restitution to be paid immediately or in
scheduled payments. In many cases, however, the proceeds of
the crime are no longer available and the defendant does not
have sufficient assets to pay restitution. It is possible,
therefore, that a victim may not receive restitution.
remedies may include a civil suit or small claims court action.
Restitution cannot be avoided through bankruptcy.
With Your Recovery
Victims and witnesses are emotionally affected
by crime. Although everyone reacts differently, victims and
witnesses commonly report some of these behaviors:
concern for your personal safety and that of family members.
You may naturally be more cautious.
- Trouble concentrating
on the job.
handling everyday problems or feeling overwhelmed.
- Going over
the circumstances of the crime again and again, and thinking
about what might have gone differently.
from financial loss.
are normal, and they may decrease with time. Talking with the
Postal Inspector handling your case or a Victim/Witness Coordinator
may assist in your recovery.
If the defendant
either pleads guilty or is found guilty, you have the opportunity,
before sentencing, to submit an “Impact Statement” describing
the emotional, physical, and financial effects of the crime
on your life and that of your family. A Victim/Witness Coordinator
can help you prepare the statement, if needed.
Call the Victim/Witness Coordinator at your local Postal Inspection
Service office for information on the status of your case.
If the case is prosecuted federally, you should receive information
on how to access the Department of Justice’s Victim Notification
System (VNS). VNS is a computer-based system that provides
updated information on your case. You can access it at no cost
via a toll-free number.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME
ORGANIZATION FOR VICTIM ASSISTANCE
CENTER FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME
POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE
475 L’ENFANT PLAZA SW RM 3100
1-877-FTC-HELP (toll free) www.ftc.gov
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