Office of Crime Victim Services

CVRB Frequently Asked Questions

 

What does the CVRB do?

The Crime Victims' Rights Board (CVRB) was created by Wis. Stat. 950.09 to hear complaints from victims of crime who believe their crime victims' rights have been violated. When probable cause exists to believe a violation may have occurred, the Board can open an investigation and hold a hearing to decide whether a violation occurred.  If the Board finds a violation occurred it can impost remedies.  The Board can also issue reports and recommendations concerning the provision of victims' rights and services in Wisconsin.

 

Who is on the CVRB?

The Board consists of five members who are appointed to serve 4-year terms. The Wisconsin District Attorney's Association appoints a district attorney position; the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council appoints a citizen position; the attorney general appoints a law enforcement position as well as a victim/witness professional position; and the governor appoints a citizen position.

 

What kinds of complaints can the Board review?

The jurisdiction of the Board is limited to complaints that involve a possible violation of crime victim rights, as provided in Wisconsin law (Chapter 950) and the state Constitution.

 

How does a victim file a complaint with the CVRB?

Victims must first complete an informal complaint process.  The vast majority of complaints are resolved through this process which is administered through the Department of Justice Victim Resource Center (VRC).  When the informal process is concluded, victims have a right to ask the Board to review their complaint.  Victims receive a form from the VRC to file a formal complaint with the Board.  The form is very short and requires that the victim attach a narrative describing the basis for the complaint along with any relevant evidence.

 

Does the Board help advocate for the victims who file complaints?

No. The Board is not a victim advocacy board. It is a quasi-judicial body concerned with fact-finding and applying existing law to individual cases. The Board's process protects the rights of the accused and the victim with equally.

 

Should a victim hire an attorney in order to file a complaint?

Victims do not have to have an attorney in order to participate in the complaint process. However, victims bear the burden of proof in the formal complaint process. In other words, they must present evidence to prove that their rights were violated. They may also want to make legal arguments regarding the interpretation of victims' rights law. Therefore, though it is not required, it may be helpful to the victim to have legal representation or a victim advocate to assist.

 

Against whom can a victim file a complaint?

Victims can file a formal complaint against any public official, public employee or agency that they believe violated their crime victims' rights. However, victims must first try to resolve their complaint through an informal process within the Wisconsin Department of Justice before filing a complaint with the Board.

 

Is a complaint confidential?

The complaint is confidential until the Board issues its finding regarding probable cause. Certain records remain confidential and others may become public per Wisconsin public records law.

 

How long does it take the Board to decide a case?

The formal complaint process can be lengthy, depending on the complexity of the case and the schedule/caseload of the Board. The Board meets six to eight times per year and often has multiple cases to review.  There are also statutory requirements for providing notice to parties involved in a case.  Therefore, a case can take several months to conclude.

 

What actions can the Board take after it reviews a complaint?

Based on its review of a complaint, the Board may seek equitable relief on behalf of the victim to protect the rights of the victim and/or it may refer a violation or alleged violation to the judicial commission. If the Board finds that a violation occurred, it can issue a public or private reprimand to public officials, employees or agencies and/or bring a civil action to assess a forfeiture (for intentional violations). The Board may also issue reports and recommendations concerning the provision of victims' rights and services.

 

Who oversees the actions of the Board?

The CVRB is an agency separate from all other agencies. Staff is assigned by the Department of Justice to provide administrative, operational and legal assistance but Board decisions are not subject to approval or review by the attorney general. Decisions of the Board can be reviewed through the appeals process.  Parties can appeal CVRB decisions by asking the Board to conduct a new hearing (based on new evidence) or by asking the circuit court to review the Board's decision.

 

How can I get more information about rights' enforcement and the Board?

The Wisconsin Department of Justice website contains detailed information about the Board, including links to the statutes that govern the Board here.