Feinstein & Sullivan

Protecting oneself from harm is a natural human instinct, but sometimes people find themselves in situations where they are unable to do so. For example, they may have witnessed a crime or have information that could pose a risk to their lives. In such cases, one option that is available to them is to enter witness protection.

The witness protection program is designed to protect threatened individuals who have testified to a crime and are at risk of facing retaliation or backlash for doing so. Being in the witness protection program can be arranged through the US government, though it may be difficult to qualify for.

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What is witness protection, and how does it work? In this article, we will explain what witness protection is and how it can help individuals who may be in danger.

What is Witness Protection?

Witness protection is a program that is run by the federal government, state governments, and private firms to provide protection to individuals who have witnessed a crime or have information that could put them in danger. The program is run by the United States Marshals Service, which is a part of the Department of Justice.

Usually, individuals in the witness protection program are in danger for having provided testimony against drug traffickers, organized crime members, terrorists, or other dangerous individuals or groups that may seek retaliation for speaking out against them.

The purpose of the witness protection program is to keep the witnesses safe from harm by providing them with a new identity, a new home, and a new job. The program also provides the witnesses with financial assistance. When someone is a part of the witness protection program, they’ll be given 24-hour protection while they’re in “high-threat” environments, such as while they’re giving testimonies, at court appearances, and in pre-trial conferences for more high-profile cases.

Authorized by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, the Witness Security Program was amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

Qualifications for

Witness Protection

Not everyone who is in danger qualifies for witness protection. Typically, this service is offered to threatened persons who are at risk of retaliation or intimidation by the defendants.

To qualify for witness protection, the individual must meet certain criteria.

Someone Who Has Witnessed a Crime or Has Information

First and foremost, someone needs to have been an essential witness to a crime, or have information that could put them in danger. In some cases, the witness was actually a participant in the crime themselves but is willing to testify on behalf of the state.

Specifically, witnesses must be involved in offenses defined in Title 18 of the United States Code Section 1961(1), which covers organized crime and rac keteering. People may also be eligible for witness protection by providing information in cases regarding drug trafficking offenses, federal felonies, state offenses, or some administrative proceedings where providing testimony may place that witness in jeopardy.

Someone Who Has The Willingness to Testify

While someone may have been a witness to or participant in a crime, they will not be eligible for federal witness protection if they do not provide testimony in a court of law. This is important because the purpose of witness protection is to help with the prosecution of criminals.

Bear in mind that there is not a specific quantity of information that a witness can provide that acts as a point of entry into the witness protection program. As long as there is a credible threat against someone’s life, law enforcement can protect that individual

Someone Who Is In Immediate Danger

Finally, there must be an immediate danger posed to the individual. Especially with organized crime groups or in the cases of corporate felonies, there is a chance that intimidation or retaliation could threaten the life or livelihood of that witness – thus, requiring protection.

There is typically an assessment phase that will determine an individual’s worthiness of entering witness protection. All who apply to be in the program must undergo very careful vetting.

How Do You Know

If You're Eligible For Witness Protection?

There is typically an assessment phase that will determine an individual’s worthiness of entering witness protection. All who apply to be in the program must undergo very careful vetting. Because federal witness protection is so intensive, it’s likely that there will be many who want a high level of protection but do not qualify.

Every case is different, and thus it is impossible to give a direct yes or no answer to witness protection eligibility. However, it’s important to note that state and private firm protection programs may be more flexible and open to nuanced cases. Many will handle situations that the U.S. Marshals will not.

Someone who feels that their life is in danger but is not eligible for witness protection would be advised to seek out a private firm, especially if their state does not have its own bespoke protection arrangements.

How does Witness Protection work?

If someone is eligible for witness protection, what can they expect? In most cases, they will be required to leave behind almost everything from their current life in order to start fresh.

A New Identity

When a person enters the witness protection program, they are given a new identity, which includes a new name, social security number, and other identifying documents. Witnesses are required to change their last names, but changing the first one is optional.

Usually, people keep their first names so they’ll still instinctually answer when they’re called to. Family members who are entering the protection program will also need to change their names. New names cannot be anything that is related to the person’s life.

Government witness protection programs use a secure mail and phone system to allow people to communicate with their families.

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A New Home

Once they’re provided with new identifying documents, an individual is relocated to a new home in a different part of the country. People will be moved somewhere with which they have no association. Usually, someone will be asked where they most want to go, and are then sent elsewhere.

The reason for this is because if someone has told all of their friends that they’ve always dreamed of visiting Hawai’i or New York City, that’s one of the first places someone trying to look for them will go.

The program pays for the witness’ living expenses for about six months to a few years, including housing, food, and medical care.


The program also provides the individual with a job, which is often in a new field. Without past experience to build a resume with, this help is essential. The individual is also given the training necessary to help them succeed in their new job.

While they are given the tools to get a new job, firms working with individuals in the witness protection program will also provide a stipend of money to allow them to support themselves and their families as they adjust. However, U.S. Marshals will not fabricate resumes or references, so nailing a job interview will still have some hurdles.

The new job will not be anything that puts the witness directly into the public eye; they will not enter into television, politics, or high-level roles.

Children who are entering into the witness protection program will be given new school records that match up with their current grade level.

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Importantly, witness protection programs also provide security for the individual. The individual is assigned a U.S. Marshal who is responsible for their safety. That Marshal will work with local law enforcement to ensure that the individual is safe. Usually, a witness will be in touch with their specific Marshal about once a year if there’s no trouble.

Ultimately, the goal is to prevent detection. Someone in the witness protection program should be safe from being found by persons or groups that would do them harm. Because of this, it is often advised that people in witness protection stay away from social media.

Social Media and Witness Protection

As the witness protection program is over 50 years old, changes in technology have made it so that keeping someone completely anonymous online is a challenge. Facial recognition software can see past makeup or dyed hair, and advertising cookies and online trackers mean that someone can easily create the same online footprint they had before. For example, if a 40-year-old man who follows a favorite tennis star, collects ships in a bottle, and listens to specific podcasts continues the same online activity as he was before, a search engine may match his current user profile to his previous one – even if he’s changed his name and wiped out his social media profiles. Unfortunately, unless someone in the program stays offline but for research and necessities and never leaves their house, the current state of technology will continue to be a struggle for witness protection.


State-Specific Witness Protection

California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington, D.C. have their own individualized witness protection programs. In these cases, they usually protect witnesses to crimes that are not typically covered by their federal counterparts. Usually, state-run programs are less extensive – they do not have the ability to access and use federal documents like social security cards that would be used to verify a person’s identity. However, they may be a viable option for those who are looking for protection as a witness to a crime not covered federally. Still, state-specific or private firm witness protection offers excellent security for individuals who are not eligible for government protection.

Why leave Witness Protection?

Someone always has the option to leave witness protection should they feel that they’re now safe and established enough to go on without it. Should something go awry once they leave and their lives are still in danger, U.S. Marshals will be able to locate them again.

However, once an individual has left witness protection, they are, of course, void of that layer of security. It is possible that a threatened individual may be at risk by leaving the program


How Much Money Does A Witness Get From Witness Protection?

The answer truly depends – and not on the testimony. Individuals on witness protection will be paid based on the cost of living in the area they’re being relocated to. However, they will sometimes have a slight say in where they go. An average estimate is $60,000 per year, but that is not a guarantee.

A government stipend is also not infinite. Some will run up after six months, while others may last for a number of years.

How can Feinstein & Sullivan help?

If you do not qualify for witness protection but still need protection, you may be wondering what your options are. Feinstein & Sullivan is a private firm that provides relatively comparable levels of identity protection to threatened individuals. Feinstein & Sullivan can help you by providing you with a new identity and consulting with you regarding relocation. After you obtained your new identity, the firm remains at your service for an indefinite period of time to assist you on how to maintain your new identity and to lower the chances of your old identity having surfaced anywhere.


Want to see how the services of Feinstein & Sullivan compare to the Federal Witness Protection? In short, we are not better, and not worse, just different. Take a look and see the similarities and differences:

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- State WP Federal Witness Protection Feinstein & Sullivan
Creating a new identity legally Lorem Ipsum Within the USA Globally*
Timeframe for a new identity Lorem Ipsum After trials and/or when conditions are met Min. 6 months
Entire family eligibility Lorem Ipsum YES YES
Eligibility prerequisites Lorem Ipsum Strict conditions set by the Federal Government Minimal requirements
Polygraph testing Lorem Ipsum Mandatory NO
Relocation costs Lorem Ipsum FREE Paid by client
Jurisdiction for relocation Lorem Ipsum USA Worldwide**
Contract with rules of conduct Lorem Ipsum Mandatory No
Employment given Lorem Ipsum YES NO
Financial support provided Lorem Ipsum Avg. 6 months NO
Supervision after new identity given Lorem Ipsum Avg. 1 per year Constant contact****
Psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker help Lorem Ipsum FREE Paid by client
Ability to gain a third identity subsequently Lorem Ipsum NO Allowed & Recommended
Price Lorem Ipsum FREE Paid service
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In conclusion, witness protection is a program that is run by the federal government to provide protection to individuals who have witnessed a crime or have information that could put their lives in danger. The program provides individuals with a new identity, a new home, and a new job. The program also provides financial assistance to help the individuals start a new life.

Unfortunately, not everyone who is in danger qualifies for witness protection. If you do not qualify for witness protection but still need help, Feinstein & Sullivan is a private firm that can provide a paid alternative to you and your family.