Summary: S.934 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.934. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (04/30/1999)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Victim Rights

Subtitle A: Amendments to Title 18, United States Code

Subtitle B: Amendments to Federal Rules of Criminal

Procedure

Subtitle C: Amendment to Federal Rules of Evidence

Subtitle D: Remedies for Noncompliance

Title II: Victim Assistance Initiatives

Crime Victims Assistance Act - Title I: Victim Rights - Subtitle A: Amendments to Title 18, United States Code - Amends the Federal criminal code to require that, in any case involving a defendant who is arrested for an offense involving death or bodily injury to any person, a threat of death or bodily injury, or a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault (listed offenses) in which a detention hearing is scheduled: (1) the Government make a reasonable effort to notify the victim of the hearing and of the victim's right to be heard on the issue of detention; and (2) the court, at such hearing, inquire of the Government as to whether notification efforts were successful and whether the victim wishes to be heard and, if so, afford the victim such opportunity.

(Sec. 102) Includes among the factors which a judge shall consider in determining whether to grant a continuance the interests of the victim (or the family of a victim who is deceased or incapacitated) in the prompt and appropriate disposition of the case, free from unreasonable delay.

(Sec. 103) Requires the probation officer, prior to submitting the presentence report, to provide notice to all identified victims of their right to attend the sentencing hearing and to make a statement to the court at the sentencing hearing.

(Sec. 104) Amends the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 to require, after trial, a responsible official to provide a victim the earliest possible notice of the escape, work release, furlough, or any other form of release of an offender from a psychiatric institution or other facility that provides mental health services to offenders.

(Sec. 105) Increases the scope of provisions and severity of penalties regarding witness tampering.

Subtitle B: Amendments to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure - Amends rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (FRCrP) to require that, in any case involving a defendant who is charged with a listed offense: (1) the Government, prior to a hearing at which a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is entered, make a reasonable effort to notify the victim of the date and time of the hearing and of the victim's right to attend the hearing and to address the court; and (2) if the victim attends, the court, before accepting a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, afford the victim an opportunity to be heard on the proposed plea agreement.

Authorizes the court, in cases involving more than 15 victims and after consultation with the Government and the victims, to appoint a number of victims to serve as representatives of the victims' interests.

(Sec. 122) Amends FRCrP 32 and 32.1 to provide for enhanced rights of notification and allocution at sentencing and at a probation revocation hearing.

Subtitle C: Amendment to Federal Rules of Evidence - Amends rule 615 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) to provide that such rule does not authorize exclusion of a person who is a victim of a listed offense for which a defendant is being tried in a criminal trial unless the court concludes that: (1) the testimony of the person will be materially affected by hearing the testimony of other witnesses, and the material effect of hearing the testimony of other witnesses on the testimony of that person will result in unfair prejudice to any party; or (2) due to the large number of victims or family members of victims who may be called as witnesses, permitting attendance in the courtroom itself when testimony is being heard is not feasible.

Directs the Judicial Conference of the United States to submit to the Congress reports containing recommendations for amending: (1) the FRCrP to provide enhanced opportunities for victims of listed offenses to be heard on the issue of whether or not the court should accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and to participate during the presentencing phase of the criminal process, and to ensure that reasonable efforts are made to notify victims of such offenses of revocation hearings; and (2) the FRE to provide enhanced opportunities for victims of listed offenses to attend judicial proceedings, even if they may testify as a witness at the proceeding. Sets forth provisions regarding congressional action on such reports.

Subtitle D: Remedies for Noncompliance - Specifies that any failure to comply with any amendment made by this Act shall not give rise to a claim for damages, or any other action against the United States, any employee of the United States, any court official or officer of the court, or an entity contracting with the United States, or any action seeking a rehearing or other reconsideration of action taken in connection with a defendant.

Directs the Attorney General and the Chairman of the United States Parole Commission to promulgate regulations to carry out this title.

Title II: Victim Assistance Initiatives - Authorizes appropriations to enable the Attorney General to: (1) hire 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees to serve victim-witness advocates to provide assistance to victims of any criminal offense investigated by any department or agency of the Federal Government; and (2) provide grants through the Office of Victims of Crime (the Office) to qualified private entities to fund 50 victim-witness advocate positions within those organizations.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes the use of sums collected under the False Claims Act to be used by the Office to make grants to States, units of local government, and qualified private entities, to provide training and information to prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officers, probation officers, and other officers and employees of Federal and State courts to assist them in responding effectively to the needs of crime victims.

(Sec. 203) Amends the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to authorize to the Office such sums as necessary for grants to State and local prosecutors' offices, State courts, county jails, State correctional institutions, and qualified private entities, to develop and implement state-of-the-art systems for notifying victims of crime of important dates and developments relating to the criminal proceedings at issue. Allows sums collected under the False Claims Act to be used for such grants. Authorizes the use of sums from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund for such grants.

(Sec. 204) Directs the Attorney General, acting through the Director of the Office, to establish and carry out a program to provide for pilot programs to establish and operate Victim Ombudsman Information Centers in Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.

(Sec. 205) Amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to: (1) provide for the deposit into the Crime Victims Fund of any gifts, bequests, and donations from private entities or individuals; (2) direct that certain unobligated balances transferred to the judicial branch for administrative costs be returned to the Fund and be used by the Director of the Office to improve services for crime victims in the Federal criminal justice system; (3) require States that receive supplemental funding to respond to incidents of terrorism or mass violence to return to the Fund for deposit in the reserve fund, amounts subrogated to the State as a result of third-party payments to victims; (4) increase the percentage of amounts awarded by the Director to an eligible crime victim compensation program; (5) require the Director to make grants for training and technical assistance that address the significance of and effective delivery strategies for providing long-term psychological care; and (6) make funds available to the Director for fellowships and clinical internships, and to carry out programs of training and special workshops for the presentation and dissemination of information resulting from demonstrations, surveys, and special projects.

(Sec. 206) Directs that a specified statute not be construed to prohibit a recipient from using funds derived from a source other than the Legal Services Corporation to provide related legal assistance to any person with whom an alien has a relationship covered by the domestic violence laws of the State in which the alien resides or in which an incidence of violence occurred.

(Sec. 207) Authorizes the use of funds collected under the False Claims Act by the Office to make grants to States, units of local government, and qualified private entities for the establishment of pilot programs that implement balanced and restorative justice models.

(Sec. 208) Revises the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to authorize the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime to make grants to: (1) States for eligible crime victim compensation and assistance programs for the benefit of victims of a terrorist act or mass violence, whether occurring within or outside the United States, who are U.S. citizens or employees and not eligible for compensation under title VIII of the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (victims); and (2) victim service organizations, and public agencies that provide emergency or ongoing assistance to crime victims, to provide for the benefit of victims emergency relief and related victim services and emergency response training and technical assistance.