The Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) was statutorily
established in 1998 as an independent state agency charged with the promotion
and protection of the constitutional and statutory rights of crime victims in
Connecticut. Among its many responsibilities, the OVA provides
oversight of state and private agencies, and advocacy to crime victims when a
violation of their rights is at issue. In order to fulfill its mandate, the OVA receives and
reviews complaints of persons concerning the actions of any state agency or
other entity that provides services to crime victims. When appropriate, the OVA
may also initiate formal investigations into the circumstances of a complaint
so as to remedy the concern in a systemic manner.
As part of its enforcement abilities, the Victim Advocate
is statutorily authorized to file a limited special appearance in any court
proceeding for the purpose of advocating for a victim when their rights have
been violated. In addition, as part of its advocacy efforts, the OVA conducts
programs of public education on the rights of crime victims, undertakes
legislative advocacy when necessary, and recommends systemic changes in state
policies to ensure the proper treatment and protection of crime victims.
The Office of the
Victim Advocate currently operates under the following statute when determining
who is a "victim of crime" or "crime victim:"
C.G.S. Sec. 1-1k: Except as otherwise provided by the general statutes,
"victim of crime" or "crime victim" means an individual who
suffers direct or threatened physical, emotional or financial harm as a result
of a crime and includes immediate family members of a minor, incompetent
individual or homicide victim and a person designated by a homicide victim in accordance
with section 1-56r.
The Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA), seeks to ensure that the victims of crime become an integral part of the criminal justice system. Through public education of the rights and services available to crime victims, collaboration with law enforcement and service providers, as well as court and legislative advocacy, the OVA believes that the voices of crime victims will become a necessary component of our state.
The Victim Advocate's Statutory Authority
In order to fulfill the mandates of the OVA, the Victim Advocate has the following rights, powers and responsibilities:
Rights and Powers to Access Information
The Victim Advocate has access to, including the right to inspect and copy, any records necessary to carry out the mandates of the Victim Advocate. All state, local and private agencies have a duty to cooperate with any investigation conducted by the OVA.
Confidentiality of Information
The Victim Advocate may communicate privately with any victim or person who has received, is receiving or should have received services from the state; such communications are confidential and not subject to disclosure.
The name, address and other personally identifiable information of a person making a complaint to the Victim Advocate, all information obtained or generated by the office in the course of an investigation, and all confidential records obtained by the Victim Advocate or his/her designee shall be confidential and not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or otherwise. Such information may, however, be disclosed (except information and records or other confidential information concerning pending law enforcement investigation or pending prosecution) if the Victim Advocate determines that disclosure is:
State/Municipal Employee Protection
No state or municipal agency shall discharge, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee who in good faith makes a complaint to the Victim Advocate or cooperates with the Office of the Victim Advocate in an investigation.