La Crosse, Wisconsin

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Rights and Services for Crime Victims and Witnesses

LaCrosse Co DA Seal

The Invisible Wound   Coping   Assistance for Victims and Witnesses   Crime Victims' Rights
 

Witnesses' Rights   The Criminal Justice System   FAQ'S   Testifying in Court   After Conviction

 

Other Services for Crime Victims   Victims Rights Board   Glossary

 

 

The period following a crime can be very difficult.  Although everyone reacts differently, many victims and witnesses report that they feel shock, confusion, numbness, disbelief, anger, or other emotions after the incident.  You may be having similar feelings, in addition to dealing with physical, financial, and psychological concerns related to the crime.  At the same time, the criminal justice system is likely to need you to take part in the court process, so that the person(s) responsible for the crime can be held accountable.

It can all be trying, but there is help.  As a crime victim in Wisconsin, you have rights providing certain privileges and protections, which will be outlined in this brochure.  Additionally, crime victims in the state of Wisconsin are to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect for their privacy. 

This booklet is designed to give you information about these rights, how to exercise them, and who to call to find out about services.  It will also give an overview of the criminal justice system, tell you about what might happen if you have to go to court, how to prepare to speak in court, and what can happen afterwards.  There is also a glossary to help you become familiar with words commonly used in the justice system.  This booklet does not provide legal advice.  

This is one experience that one does not plan for, is not prepared for, has no knowledge of who or where to turn.    –a victim  

The Invisible Wound 

Crime often destroys victims’ sense of trust in their surroundings and their sense of control over their lives.  This impact has often been described as an invisible wound on the crime victim’s life. 

Just as a physical injury takes time to heal, the invisible wound inflicted by crime takes time.  The healing process will be different for everyone.  It can take weeks or months for victims to regain a level of emotional balance.  Time and understanding are two important factors when dealing with the emotional and life altering impact of a serious crime. 

For some victims, talking about the event and how it has impacted their lives can be very healing.  Other victims are reluctant to express how the event has affected and changed their lives.  It is important that victims are given the opportunity, and as much time as needed, to tell someone what happened to them.  Sometimes victims need to recount the incident a number of times.  Victims need to have non-judgmental support.  They also need to have family and friends understand the importance of individual healing time and that no one recovers at the same pace.  

When one has been brutally attacked and injured, even a friendly and understanding voice on the phone can help overcome some of the sense of physical and psychological helplessness brought on by being a victim.     - a victim  

Coping After the Crime 
In our daily life, we respond differently to events that touch our lives and the lives of people we care about. 

Emotional reactions to crime can be very different.  Not everyone feels the same or responds the same.  However, victims and witnesses report some similar responses.  The list below identifies some common reactions to being a victim or witness of crime. 

  • You may experience a variety of emotions after the crime, including anger, guilt, distrust and loneliness.  Family members and friends can also experience these feelings. Your feelings are normal.

  • Many crime victims experience similar reactions, but there is no right or wrong way to feel.  You are not alone in these feelings. 

  • When your sense of personal safety has been violated, it is normal to feel that the world is dangerous or unsettled for a time.  You are not crazy. 

  • Sharing your feelings and concerns with a non-judgmental person, such as a friend, family member, or a counselor helps to sort out your emotions and can decrease feelings of isolation.  Talking with others about your feelings can help.

  • As you try to explain or understand the crime, it is easy to say, “I should have...”  Remember that you are not to blame for what happened to you.  Nobody asks to be victimized.  It is not your fault.

  • Feelings such as fear, anger and anxiety will generally diminish over time.  As you deal with the aftermath of crime, time and non-judgmental support are important.  There is hope.

Assistance for Victims and Witnesses 
Victim/Witness (V/W) Programs are located in most Wisconsin District Attorneys' (DA) offices.  Most V/W Programs provide: 

  • Information about how the justice system operates. 

  • Specific information about when and where the case will be heard. 

  • Notice of cancelled or rescheduled court hearings and the final outcome of the case. 

  • Support for your appearance in court by providing a separate waiting area, someone to go with you to court.

  • Help in the return of personal property. 

  • Referrals to other sources of help, including domestic abuse programs, sexual assault programs, social service agencies, support groups and crime victim compensation. 

  • Help with preparing a victim impact statement.

  • Information to the court about your financial losses (restitution).

  • Assistance with safety concerns.

Services are provided free of charge. 

Finally my case was assigned to another district attorney who spent a great deal of time explaining to me what was happening in the case.  just being informed of all the facts reduced my anxiety greatly.
 
‑ a victim 

Crime Victims' Rights 
Wisconsin law directs law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice officials to inform victims of their rights and how to exercise those rights.  If you have specific questions about your rights or would like to receive a complete list of rights, please contact the Victim/Witness Program. 

Counties vary in their practices, and it will be important for you to clarify and discuss the rights you have and how to exercise them.  It is important to know which rights you need to request and how to request them. 

In order to receive information, it is important that you keep the appropriate agency informed of your current address and telephone number. 

As the victim of a crime, Wisconsin law provides you with the following rights: 

  • To receive written information from law enforcement within 24 hours of their first contact with you. 

  • To be informed of your rights and how to exercise them. 

  • To contact information to find out if the offender is in custody. 

  • To notice of a decision not to prosecute if an arrest has been made. 

  • To speak (confer) with the prosecutor about the possible outcome of the case, potential plea agreements and sentencing options, if you request it. 

  • To attend court proceedings.

  • To notice of the time, date and place of upcoming court proceedings, if you request it.

  • To a waiting area separate from defense witnesses.

  • To a speedy disposition of the criminal case.

  • To have the court consider your interest before deciding to grant a request for a delay (continuance).

  • To notice if charges are dismissed.

  • To request help with talking to an employer about court appearances and meetings with the prosecutor (in an attempt to avoid work problems).

  • To be contacted about the right to make a statement at the disposition or sentencing (victim impact statement).

  • To provide to the court at the time of sentencing, a written and/or oral victim impact statement concerning the economic, physical and psychological effects of the crime.

  • To have the impact of the crime on you included in a pre-sentence investigation.

  • To sentencing or dispositional information, if you request it.

  • To restitution.

  • To a civil judgment for unpaid restitution.

  • To apply for crime victim compensation.

  • To have property returned when it is no longer needed as evidence.

  • To be notified if a prisoner is released or escapes.

  • To contact the Department of Justice to complain about any concerns you may have about your treatment as a crime victim.

  • To request an order for an offender to submit to a test for sexually transmitted diseases or HIV test.  The right to request this is limited to offenses where the law allows.

To receive a complete list of rights or for information or explanation about these rights or any other rights, please contact the Victim/Witness Program.

I thought people would understand my anger, my rage, but they didn’t.  I found instead that the anger felt by a parent of a murdered child is too strong an emotion for our society.  It is too threatening to most people, and yet if this anger is not worked through, is not channeled and is not dissipated, it will fester forever.     ‑ victim's mother  

Witnesses' Rights 
In Wisconsin, witnesses have the following rights:  

  • To request information from the district attorney about the final outcome of the case.  

  • To notice that a court proceeding to which a witness has been subpoenaed will not go on as scheduled, in order to save an unnecessary trip to court.  

  • To receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising from witness cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts, and information as to the level of protection available.  

  • To information about financial assistance and other social services available as a result of being a witness of a crime, including how to apply for the assistance and services.  

  • To information on the procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any witness fee to which a witness is entitled.  

  • To be provided a waiting area.

Juvenile Crime
Although many of the rights of victims and witnesses are the same, the juvenile court system has a different process.  Contact the Victim/Witness Program for more information about the juvenile justice system and victims’ rights.  A separate informational brochure is available. 

Being a crime victim adds a new dimension to the definition of self.   ‑ Morton Bard, sociologist  

The Criminal Justice System 
For many, the criminal justice system can be very confusing.  This information will give you a general overview of the process.  If you have additional questions, contact the Victim/Witness (V/W) Program.  You may be unfamiliar with some of the legal words.  Many of the terms used are included in the glossary at the end of this booklet. 

What happens after the crime?
Within 24 hours after the first contact with law enforcement, victims should receive information from law enforcement regarding victims’ rights, crime victim compensation, victim assistance services and information on how to reach the DA.  If someone was arrested, but not charged with a crime, the DA’s Office should inform the victim that no charges will be issued.  If charges are filed against the defendant, the victim should get written information within ten days after the initial appearance or 24 hours before the preliminary hearing including: 

  • The procedure for prosecution. 

  • A list of rights and how to exercise them. 

  • Who to contact to update address or telephone information (to receive notices and information about services). 

  • Crime Victim Compensation information. 

  • The person to contact for more information about prosecution of the case.

What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement is a way to resolve a case without a trial.  Plea agreements are worked out between the DA, the defense attorney and the offender.  In most cases, an agreement can be reached to hold the offender accountable, but avoid a trial.  Victims have a right to confer about potential plea agreements.  It is important to inform the V/W Program of your request to confer.  The V/W Program can provide more information about how plea agreements are handled. 

What does the “opportunity to confer” mean?
To confer with the DA means to discuss the case and its possible outcomes.  If a victim requests to confer, the discussions can include potential plea agreements, sentencing recommendations and disposition information.  The DA may consider your input, but makes a final decision based upon all factors of the case. 

What can I do if I receive any threats or am being harassed?
In most cases, victims and witnesses are not threatened or harassed by the defendant.  However, if you are being threatened, contact the police or other law enforcement agency immediately. 

How do I get property held in evidence returned to me?
The DA will know when your property is no longer needed as evidence.  Any questions about your property should be directed to V/W Program. 

What do I do if the offender’s investigator or attorney wants to talk to me?
Always make sure you know with whom you are talking; you can ask for identification.  You can choose not to speak to the person, and you may also ask to have a police officer or district attorney with you during the interview.  If you decide to talk with the person, give clear and precise statements and be aware that anything you say may be used in court. 

Subpoenas and the Court Process 
If you receive a subpoena (notice to appear in court), you are being asked to serve as a witness in a criminal court hearing.  A subpoena lists the date, time, place and proceeding in which your testimony is required.  Do not ignore a subpoena.  If you fail to appear, you could be charged with contempt of court.  Every attempt will be made to contact you if it is known that the hearing is cancelled. 

What should I do with the subpoena?
Read the subpoena carefully.  It may ask you to call the District Attorney’s office or the Victim Witness Program the day before the court appearance or it may provide other information or instructions.  Please bring the subpoena with you to court and be prepared to provide your social security number in order to obtain witness fees. 

Where do I go?
The subpoena will tell you where to report.  You can call the V/W Program for help; they may provide maps, directions, parking information, and arrange a waiting area for you. 

Do I need to bring anything with me to court?
Unless your subpoena gives you specific instructions to bring records, books or other items to court, you do not need to bring anything.  Be prepared to wait.  Often there are a number of scheduled court events on any given date.  You may want to bring a book or magazine. 

How often will I be required to appear in court?
The only time you must go to court is when you receive a subpoena.  Victims have a right to be present at any court hearing.  As a crime victim, you have a right to request notice of all hearings for your case. 

If you are subpoenaed to a court hearing, you may not be able to attend the entire hearing as the court may order sequestration.

You will be notified each time you are needed, and told, whenever possible, if the case has been delayed or cancelled. 

Therefore, it is very important that the V/W Program have your current address, telephone number or contact number.

As a general guide: 

  • If the case is a misdemeanor, you will usually only be needed at the trial. 

  • If the case is a felony, you may be needed for the preliminary hearing and the trial. 

  • In some cases, you may be required to appear for motion and/or sentencing hearings.

  • You may want to appear at the sentencing and provide the court with a victim impact statement about how the crime affected you and your family emotionally, physically and financially.

What if the court dates conflict with my job?
Wisconsin law forbids employers from firing employees because they have been called to testify in a criminal proceeding, even if the employee's testimony is against the employer or involves a work‑related incident.  Employees are required to give their employers prompt notice of the subpoena.  If you need assistance with an employer about being subpoenaed to court, contact the Victim/Witness Program. 

Why are there delays in holding the trial?
An attorney may ask for more time to prepare the case or to locate an important witness.  Trials are sometimes also delayed, because the judge or one of the attorneys has a schedule conflict.  Sometimes court must be cancelled at the last minute.  Every effort is made to notify you in advance. 

Who do I contact if I have questions about the case?
You can call your local Victim/Witness Program.  It is helpful to have the case number or the offender’s name when calling about a specific case.  This information will appear on your subpoena. 

Will I he paid for my time spent as a witness?
You will receive a nominal witness fee for each day you are subpoenaed to appear in court.  You may be entitled to a transportation allowance.  The Victim/Witness Program can provide assistance with applying for witness fees.  If you do not receive your witness fee within two months after your appearance in court, contact the V/W Program for further assistance.  

Testifying in Court 
The judge or jury needs to know the facts about the crime.  They will consider all of the evidence presented in court.  Because you have seen, heard, or know something about the crime that has been committed, your testimony is one way they get this information.  Testifying in court can be scary, but you can get assistance from your local V/W Program.  Prior to testifying, the judge’s clerk will ask your name and ask you to take an oath.  The oath is your promise that you will tell the truth when testifying. 

The following are helpful tips when preparing to testify in court: 

  • Refresh your memory.  Think about what happened and when the events occurred.  If you gave a written statement, ask to see it; this may help you remember things. 

  • Try to remain calm. Take a deep breath before speaking and take your time to answer. 

  • If you don’t understand a question, ask for it to be repeated or explained.  If you don’t know the answer, or can’t remember, it’s okay to say so. 

  • Try to give simple, factual answers.  If a question can be answered with a “yes,” or “no,” answer “yes” or “no”. 

  • Speak loudly and clearly.  The court reporter needs to hear your answers to record them.  Do not nod your head. 

  • Stop testifying if an attorney ‘objects.’  Either attorney can object to a question.  Do not answer the question until the judge tells you what to do.  If you are told to answer the question, you may ask the attorney to repeat it. 

  • Always tell the truth.

After Conviction 
If the offender is found guilty or pleads guilty, the defendant will be sentenced.  Prior to the sentencing of the defendant, if you are a victim, you have a right to provide the court with a written and/or oral Victim Impact Statement.  If the offender is found not guilty at the trial, this is the end of the court proceedings. 

What is a victim impact statement?
A victim impact statement is a written and/or oral statement provided to the court at the time of sentencing.  It may include information about how the crime affected you physically, financially and emotionally.  The V/W Program can assist you in preparing your statement. 

How will I know what happens to the offender?
As a victim, you have the right to be informed of the disposition (sentencing) information.  If you requested disposition information, the DA’s office will provide that information to you after the sentencing.  If the offender was sentenced to prison you also have a right to receive information about his/her release from prison. 
In order to be contacted about an offender’s release from prison, you must register for notification of release. 

For more information about registering to receive release information call the Victim/Witness Program.  For general information about probation or release of the offender, call The Department of Corrections Victim Advocate, toll‑free at 1‑800‑947‑5777. 

What happens when a judge sentences someone to prison?
Any person who commits a felony on or after December 31, 1999, and is sentenced to prison will serve the total amount of time that the court orders, and will not have the sentence reduced for good behavior (‘good time’).  Offenders who violate prison rules may have additional days added to their prison sentence.  This is called ‘bad time’.  Once an offender completes his/her prison sentence, he/she will be released and will be supervised by a Department of Corrections (DOC) agent.  This is referred to as extended supervision (ES). 

Although sentenced to prison, some offenders enter a Challenge Incarceration Program (‘Boot Camp’).  If the offender completes the program, the court must release the offender from prison and place the offender in the community under the supervision of a DOC agent.  This is done even if the full prison sentence has not been served.  This program is the only means in which a prison sentence can be reduced.  For more information, please contact the DA’s office.  

Recovering Costs 
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has a program to reimburse crime victims, or in the case of death their dependents and family members, for certain expenses incurred as the direct result of a crime.  The Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) Program can reimburse for medical and mental health expenses, lost wages, loss of support, funeral and burial expenses, cleaning up the crime scene, and clothing and bedding held as evidence as long as these expenses are not covered by another source, such as private insurance or public funds.  The program does not reimburse for property loss or damage.  There are requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the program.  
CVC may make awards even if no one is arrested or prosecuted. 

If you want to learn more about eligibility requirements or to request an application, ask the V/W Specialist or call the Office of Crime Victim Services, toll‑free at 1-800-446‑6564 (264‑9497 in the Madison area).  You can also request information and application forms by writing to: 

Office of Crime Victim Services
P.O. Box 7951
Madison, WI 53707‑7951 

What about restitution?
If found guilty, the court may order the offender to pay for financial losses you suffered as a result of the crime.  During the sentencing hearing, the DA should ask the judge to order restitution as part of the sentence. 

How do I apply for restitution?
You will be asked to provide documentation about your out of pocket expenses.  Contact the Victim/Witness Program for further information and assistance. 

How will I get paid restitution?
When restitution payments begin, the offender will give the money to their supervising agent.  The agent forwards the money to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections cashiers office, which then sends it to you.  Offenders who are not supervised by DOC, but owe restitution, will make payments to the local Clerk of Court or District Attorney’s office.  Either department will then forward the restitution payment to you. 

If you have questions about restitution, ask the V/W Program.  You can also call the Community Corrections office that is supervising the offender. 

Is there any other way to recover my losses?
Filing a lawsuit is another option for recovering losses.  Civil recovery is an action that is separate from the criminal prosecution.  Filing a civil action does not stop you from requesting restitution at the time of sentencing in the criminal case.  If you are interested in filing a civil action you may want to consult an attorney who has experience in civil law; however, you are not required to have an attorney.  You may want to contact your local clerk of courts and learn about filing instructions and fees, damage limits and the time frame in which you have to file.  

Dealing With the Media 
In high profile cases, dealing with the media can add stress to you and your family.  Many victims and family members of victims have found it helpful to have one family member or a family friend deal with the media.

No matter who responds to media requests, you should know that you can: 

  • Say ‘NO’ to an interview (even if you have given other interviews). 

  • Agree to an interview, but refuse to answer certain questions. 

  • Select a time and place for interviews.  You may protect the privacy of your home by giving interviews elsewhere or providing your point of view through a spokesperson and/or a written statement. 

  • Protect children from interviews.  A child may be re-traumatized by having to talk to the media. 

  • Request offensive photos not be printed or aired. 

  • Grieve in private and ask reporters, photographers or others to respect your privacy. 

  • Request a retraction or correction of inaccurate reporting. 

  • Request to be treated with dignity and respect at all times.

If you have questions or concerns about the media, call the V/W Program for further assistance.  

Other Services Available to Crime Victims 
If you are experiencing difficulties as a result of the crime, you may ask that the Victim/Witness Program in your area provide you with referral information for other services, such as counseling, support groups or advocacy.  Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Justice,
Victim Resource Center provides services and can be reached by calling 1-800-446-6564 or 608-264-9497.  The Wisconsin Victim Resource Center provides the following statewide services to victims of crime: 

  • Information and referrals for crime victims who are experiencing difficulties. 

  • Victim/Witness assistance in matters the Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting or when no other county victim/witness services are available.

  •  Informational materials on victims' rights in Wisconsin. 

  • Victim Appellate Notification Services (VANS). 

  • Assistance in understanding and participating in the criminal justice process. 

  • Help in resolving problems with the justice system. 

  • Aid to victims in exercising their rights.

  • Enforcement of victims' rights.

What can be done if I believe my rights as a crime victim have been violated?
A crime victim who has a question about possible crime victims’ rights violation or wishes to complain about a rights violation must first contact the Victim Resource Center, a program of the Office of Crime Victim Services, Wisconsin Department of Justice. 

The Victim Resource Center may assist a victim by raising concerns on behalf of the victim, and taking steps to resolve the problem.  Once the Victim Resource Center has addressed the problem, sought a solution, and completed its action to resolve the problem, the victim will be informed of the outcome.  After this process is completed, the victim has the right to seek a review of the complaint by the Crime Victims Rights Board for formal action. 

The Victim Resource Center can be reached by calling 1-800-446-6564 or 608-264-9497. 

What can the Crime Victims Rights Board do?
The Wisconsin Crime Victims Rights Board (CVRB) has the authority to review and take action on complaints relating to violations of the rights of crime victims (not witnesses).  The Board can review complaints and provide remedies in cases where violations of victims’ rights have occurred.  The CVRB cannot address or change the outcome of a case. 

The Crime Victims Rights Board has the statutory authority to offer certain remedies in cases brought before it.  The Board may: 

  • Issue public or private reprimands of public officials, employees or agencies. 

  • Refer complaints against judges to the Judicial Commission. 

  • Seek other relief that may be ordered by a court as necessary to protect the rights of victims. 

  • Bring civil actions to assess forfeitures (not to exceed $ 1000) for intentional violations. 

  • Issue reports and recommendations.

Although you may be dissatisfied with some aspect of how your case was handled, the Crime Victims Rights Board will only address complaints in which a victims’ rights violation may have occurred.  

Thank you Judge for allowing me to finally have my say in this matter even if it is after the fact.  I needed to say these things to the one person whose job it is to see that justice is done.  It is part of my struggle to put this horrible ordeal behind me.    ‑ a victim 

 

Glossary

A B C D E F I J L M N P R S T V W

 

Arraignment ‑ A court appearance at which the defendant is formally charged and is asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.  In felony cases, an arraignment follows a preliminary hearing. 

Bail ‑ The amount of money a judge determines sufficient to release an accused and assure his or her attendance at later hearings.  The accused can lose the total amount of bail if he or she fails to appear for court. 

Bail or Bond Review ‑ A hearing to review bail or bond conditions to determine if there should be changes. 

Challenge Incarceration Program/”Boot Camp” ‑ A program, that if completed, requires the court to release the offender from prison before completing the entire prison sentence. 

Charging ‑ When the District Attorney prepares a criminal complaint based on the evidence and witness statements developed during an investigation. 

Complaint ‑ The formal document prepared by the DA based on police reports.  It lists the charges and some of the evidence against the offender.  The complaint is filed with the Clerk of Court. 

Confer ‑ To talk with the district attorney about the criminal case.  The discussions may include plea agreements, sentencing recommendations and possible outcomes. 

Contempt of Court ‑ To disobey a court order which can result in a fine or incarceration. 

Defendant ‑ The person charged with a criminal offense.  This is the person alleged to have committed a crime. 

Defense Attorney ‑ The defendant’s attorney. 

Deferred Prosecution Agreement ‑ An agreement to suspend prosecution for a specific period of time if the offender complies with certain conditions.  Prosecution may resume if the offender fails to comply with the conditions.  Upon successful completion of the agreement, charges against the offender are dropped. 

Discovery ‑ The process by which the prosecutor and defense attorney each learn of the evidence the other will present at trial. 

Dismissal ‑ The charge(s) against the offender are dropped. 

Disposition ‑ The final result of a criminal case.  This may be a finding of guilty, not guilty, dismissal or a plea of no contest. 

District Attorney ‑ The prosecuting officer who is an elected official and who represents the State in each of its prosecutorial units.  Also called a prosecutor or DA. 

Due Process ‑ The right of accused persons (defendants) to receive notice of the charges against them, be present at the trial, provide evidence to the court, and face a jury of their peers.  Due process rights, guaranteed in the United States Constitution, can also be described as every person's right to a fair trial. 

Extended Supervision (ES) ‑ A period of supervision that follows a prison sentence, also known as community supervision.  ES must equal at least 25% of the length of the time in prison (for example, for a 20-year prison sentence, ES must be at least 5 years). 

Felony ‑ A crime that may be punishable by confinement in a state prison, generally for a term exceeding one year. 

Initial Appearance ‑ A defendant’s first appearance in court.  A judge reads the charges, sets bail, and appoints an attorney if one is needed.  In felony cases, a date is often set for arraignment or preliminary hearing. 

Jury Trial ‑ A proceeding in which a panel of citizens who are selected to listen to the facts of the case and decide whether the State has proven its charge beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Life Sentence ‑ An offender who is sentenced to life for an act committed on or after December 31, 1999 must serve at least 20 years in prison before being eligible for release on extended supervision. 

Misdemeanor ‑ A crime that may be punishable by confinement to a county jail, generally for one year or less. 

Motions ‑ An oral or written request about a legal question made by the prosecutor or the defense attorney before, during, or after a trial.  Motions are filed to make a decision about some legal aspect of the case. 

No Contest Plea ‑ When the defendant accepts the criminal charges, but does not admit guilt.  In turn, the court usually finds the defendant guilty. 

Parole ‑ When the offender is released from prison and placed on supervision (parole) with conditions.  Offenders who committed an offense prior to December 31, 1999, are eligible for parole. 

Plea Agreement ‑ A proposed resolution to the case.  A plea agreement is between the district attorney, the defense attorney and the offender and is done in an effort to resolve the case and hold the offender accountable without holding a trial. 

Preliminary Hearing ‑ A hearing at which the prosecutor attempts to establish that a crime was committed and the defendant committed that crime.  If probable cause is established, the case will proceed.  If not established, the case is dismissed. 

Pretrial ‑ An opportunity for the attorneys to review the case, exchange discovery and discuss any possible offers and/or recommendations the State would give if the defendant were to plead guilty. 

Probable Cause ‑ A determination by the court that more likely than not, a criminal act occurred and was committed by the defendant accused. 

Probation ‑ An alternative to serving time in prison.  The person convicted of a crime is allowed to remain in the community, but have restrictions on daily activities and are supervised.  Violation of probation can result in a prison sentence, additional restrictions, or a change in conditions of supervision. 

Prosecutor ‑ The District Attorney, Assistant District Attorney or Special Prosecutor who has been asked or appointed to review and handle a specific case. 

Restitution ‑ An amount of money set by the court that the offender is ordered to pay the victim(s) of a crime. 

Sequestration ‑ An order by the court that witnesses not speak to one another during the course of a court proceeding, and may include exclusion from courtroom during other testimony. 

Subpoena ‑ A legal order requiring a person to appear in court to testify as a witness. 

Trial ‑ An official hearing of the facts in court.  With physical evidence and testimony, the DA attempts to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Victim Impact Statement ‑ An oral and/or written statement that is presented to the court at the time of sentencing.  A Victim Impact Statement is a victim's opportunity to tell the court how the crime affected them emotionally, financially and physically. 

Warrant ‑ A legal order to a law enforcement agency to arrest the person named in the order.  A warrant is usually issued for an offender who fails to appear in court.

 
Updated:   04/28/2005                                  
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