View all text of Chapter 224 [§ 3521 - § 3528]

§ 3521. Witness relocation and protection
(1) The Attorney General may provide for the relocation and other protection of a witness or a potential witness for the Federal Government or for a State government in an official proceeding concerning an organized criminal activity or other serious offense, if the Attorney General determines that an offense involving a crime of violence directed at the witness with respect to that proceeding, an offense set forth in chapter 73 of this title directed at the witness, or a State offense that is similar in nature to either such offense, is likely to be committed. The Attorney General may also provide for the relocation and other protection of the immediate family of, or a person otherwise closely associated with, such witness or potential witness if the family or person may also be endangered on account of the participation of the witness in the judicial proceeding.
(2) The Attorney General shall issue guidelines defining the types of cases for which the exercise of the authority of the Attorney General contained in paragraph (1) would be appropriate.
(3) The United States and its officers and employees shall not be subject to any civil liability on account of any decision to provide or not to provide protection under this chapter.
(1) In connection with the protection under this chapter of a witness, a potential witness, or an immediate family member or close associate of a witness or potential witness, the Attorney General shall take such action as the Attorney General determines to be necessary to protect the person involved from bodily injury and otherwise to assure the health, safety, and welfare of that person, including the psychological well-being and social adjustment of that person, for as long as, in the judgment of the Attorney General, the danger to that person exists. The Attorney General may, by regulation—
(A) provide suitable documents to enable the person to establish a new identity or otherwise protect the person;
(B) provide housing for the person;
(C) provide for the transportation of household furniture and other personal property to a new residence of the person;
(D) provide to the person a payment to meet basic living expenses, in a sum established in accordance with regulations issued by the Attorney General, for such times as the Attorney General determines to be warranted;
(E) assist the person in obtaining employment;
(F) provide other services necessary to assist the person in becoming self-sustaining;
(G) disclose or refuse to disclose the identity or location of the person relocated or protected, or any other matter concerning the person or the program after weighing the danger such a disclosure would pose to the person, the detriment it would cause to the general effectiveness of the program, and the benefit it would afford to the public or to the person seeking the disclosure, except that the Attorney General shall, upon the request of State or local law enforcement officials or pursuant to a court order, without undue delay, disclose to such officials the identity, location, criminal records, and fingerprints relating to the person relocated or protected when the Attorney General knows or the request indicates that the person is under investigation for or has been arrested for or charged with an offense that is punishable by more than one year in prison or that is a crime of violence;
(H) protect the confidentiality of the identity and location of persons subject to registration requirements as convicted offenders under Federal or State law, including prescribing alternative procedures to those otherwise provided by Federal or State law for registration and tracking of such persons; and
(I) exempt procurement for services, materials, and supplies, and the renovation and construction of safe sites within existing buildings from other provisions of law as may be required to maintain the security of protective witnesses and the integrity of the Witness Security Program.
The Attorney General shall establish an accurate, efficient, and effective system of records concerning the criminal history of persons provided protection under this chapter in order to provide the information described in subparagraph (G).
(2) Deductions shall be made from any payment made to a person pursuant to paragraph (1)(D) to satisfy obligations of that person for family support payments pursuant to a State court order.
(3) Any person who, without the authorization of the Attorney General, knowingly discloses any information received from the Attorney General under paragraph (1)(G) shall be fined $5,000 or imprisoned five years, or both.
(c) Before providing protection to any person under this chapter, the Attorney General shall, to the extent practicable, obtain information relating to the suitability of the person for inclusion in the program, including the criminal history, if any, and a psychological evaluation of, the person. The Attorney General shall also make a written assessment in each case of the seriousness of the investigation or case in which the person’s information or testimony has been or will be provided and the possible risk of danger to other persons and property in the community where the person is to be relocated and shall determine whether the need for that person’s testimony outweighs the risk of danger to the public. In assessing whether a person should be provided protection under this chapter, the Attorney General shall consider the person’s criminal record, alternatives to providing protection under this chapter, the possibility of securing similar testimony from other sources, the need for protecting the person, the relative importance of the person’s testimony, results of psychological examinations, whether providing such protection will substantially infringe upon the relationship between a child who would be relocated in connection with such protection and that child’s parent who would not be so relocated, and such other factors as the Attorney General considers appropriate. The Attorney General shall not provide protection to any person under this chapter if the risk of danger to the public, including the potential harm to innocent victims, outweighs the need for that person’s testimony. This subsection shall not be construed to authorize the disclosure of the written assessment made pursuant to this subsection.
(1) Before providing protection to any person under this chapter, the Attorney General shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with that person. Each such memorandum of understanding shall set forth the responsibilities of that person, including—
(A) the agreement of the person, if a witness or potential witness, to testify in and provide information to all appropriate law enforcement officials concerning all appropriate proceedings;
(B) the agreement of the person not to commit any crime;
(C) the agreement of the person to take all necessary steps to avoid detection by others of the facts concerning the protection provided to that person under this chapter;
(D) the agreement of the person to comply with legal obligations and civil judgments against that person;
(E) the agreement of the person to cooperate with all reasonable requests of officers and employees of the Government who are providing protection under this chapter;
(F) the agreement of the person to designate another person to act as agent for the service of process;
(G) the agreement of the person to make a sworn statement of all outstanding legal obligations, including obligations concerning child custody and visitation;
(H) the agreement of the person to disclose any probation or parole responsibilities, and if the person is on probation or parole under State law, to consent to Federal supervision in accordance with section 3522 of this title; and
(I) the agreement of the person to regularly inform the appropriate program official of the activities and current address of such person.
Each such memorandum of understanding shall also set forth the protection which the Attorney General has determined will be provided to the person under this chapter, and the procedures to be followed in the case of a breach of the memorandum of understanding, as such procedures are established by the Attorney General. Such procedures shall include a procedure for filing and resolution of grievances of persons provided protection under this chapter regarding the administration of the program. This procedure shall include the opportunity for resolution of a grievance by a person who was not involved in the case.
(2) The Attorney General shall enter into a separate memorandum of understanding pursuant to this subsection with each person protected under this chapter who is eighteen years of age or older. The memorandum of understanding shall be signed by the Attorney General and the person protected.
(3) The Attorney General may delegate the responsibility initially to authorize protection under this chapter only to the Deputy Attorney General, to the Associate Attorney General, to any Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division or National Security Division of the Department of Justice, to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (insofar as the delegation relates to a criminal civil rights case), and to one other officer or employee of the Department of Justice.
(e) If the Attorney General determines that harm to a person for whom protection may be provided under section 3521 of this title is imminent or that failure to provide immediate protection would otherwise seriously jeopardize an ongoing investigation, the Attorney General may provide temporary protection to such person under this chapter before making the written assessment and determination required by subsection (c) of this section or entering into the memorandum of understanding required by subsection (d) of this section. In such a case the Attorney General shall make such assessment and determination and enter into such memorandum of understanding without undue delay after the protection is initiated.
(f) The Attorney General may terminate the protection provided under this chapter to any person who substantially breaches the memorandum of understanding entered into between the Attorney General and that person pursuant to subsection (d), or who provides false information concerning the memorandum of understanding or the circumstances pursuant to which the person was provided protection under this chapter, including information with respect to the nature and circumstances concerning child custody and visitation. Before terminating such protection, the Attorney General shall send notice to the person involved of the termination of the protection provided under this chapter and the reasons for the termination. The decision of the Attorney General to terminate such protection shall not be subject to judicial review.
(Added Pub. L. 98–473, title II, § 1208, Oct. 12, 1984, 98 Stat. 2153; amended Pub. L. 101–647, title XXXV, § 3582, Nov. 29, 1990, 104 Stat. 4929; Pub. L. 105–119, title I, § 115(a)(9), Nov. 26, 1997, 111 Stat. 2467; Pub. L. 109–177, title V, § 506(a)(7), Mar. 9, 2006, 120 Stat. 248.)