When advocating for a victim with law enforcement or with other agencies, it is important for the victim advocate to have a clear understanding of the scope of information where permission for disclosure has been given. Utilizing a signed, written confidentiality form for your agency is the simplest way to provide notice to the victim of the type of information that can be disclosed.
Victim advocacy organizations should also maintain an agency wide, written confidentiality policy. This policy should address the most common issues regarding confidentiality and disclosure. It should also provide guidance when faced with a difficult situation such as mandatory child abuse reporting or responding to a court order such as a subpoena.
Victim advocates frequently play a critical role in the criminal justice process. Victim advocate should not reveal any information to prosecutors, law enforcement, or defense attorneys unless the advocate receives:
1.) Express consent from the victim
2.) A court order
3.) A subpoena accompanied by either a court order or “satisfactory assurances”
4.) A discovery request accompanied by either a court order or “satisfactory assurances.”
The "satisfactory assurance" requirement can be fulfilled either through a “Notice to Consumer” document or, in the alternative, a written statement demonstrating that:
The requesting party made a good faith attempt to provide written notice to the victim
The notice included sufficient information about the judicial proceeding to permit the victim to raise an objection in court
| The time for the victim to raise objections to the court elapsed without the victim filing an objection