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9/16/14 8:25 AM

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  • Court Process
  • Day of Trial
  • Victim Resources
  • Restitution
  • Victim/Witness Contact Info

Victim/Witness Assistance


COURT PROCESS

EXPLANATION

As a victim or a witness of a crime, you automatically become involved in a system that can sometimes be intimidating and confusing. The Victim Witness Assistance Unit will be here to explain court procedures to you and answer any questions that you may have regarding your case. We will follow your case through to final disposition and inform you of that decision.

SUMMONS/SUBPOENAS

FOR CIRCUIT COURT:  A Deputy Sheriff will deliver a witness summons to victims and witnesses notifying them of the scheduled court date. The law requires them to appear on that date unless they have been excused by a representative of the State's Attorney's Office. You can see if you are excused the night before your trial date by going to NEXT DAY CIRCUIT COURT STATUS or by calling the VICTIM/WITNESS HOTLINE @ 240-313-2031.

FOR DISTRICT COURT:  Subpoenas for victims and witnesses are generated through Annapolis District Court and sent through the United States Postal Service.  The law requires them to appear on that date unless they have been excused by a representative of the State's Attorney's Office. If there is a conflict with your court date, you must make a written request 2 weeks prior to the court date asking to be excused.  You can mail your request including your case number, your name, contact information, and explanation of conflict for excusal to our State's Attorney's Office at 33 W. Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD  21740 or fax it to 240-313-2001.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Victims and witnesses have the right to decide whether or not they want to discuss the case with the defendant's attorney. If they choose to talk to the defendant's attorney, they may also request that a representative from the State's Attorney's Office be present during the interview. Victims and witnesses should always be sure they know who they are talking to when they discuss their case.

MOTION'S HEARING

It may be necessary for victims and witnesses to appear at an informal hearing called a Motion's Hearing. This hearing is scheduled before the trial so that the evidence can be reviewed by the judge. Victims and witnesses should call their Victim/Witness Coordinator the day before the hearing to see if they will be needed.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The prosecutors of the State’s Attorney’s Office respect the opinions, concerns, and expected outcomes of each and every victim.  However, each prosecutor took an oath to handle his/her duties in a fair and unbiased fashion. 

There are times when the evidence is not strong enough to proceed with the higher charge. Sometimes a plea to a lesser charge is the best solution.   Numerous reasons may exist to enter into plea agreements with defendants.  This can be extremely frustrating for the victim.   We are available to answer questions regarding this situation if they should occur. 

CONTINUANCES

FOR CIRCUIT COURT:  Court hearings cannot always take place as scheduled and may be "continued" (postponed). Victims and witnesses should call their Victim/Witness Coordinator the day before the trial to make sure there have been no last-minute changes.  You can see if you are excused the night before your trial date by going to NEXT DAY CIRCUIT COURT STATUS or by calling the VICTIM/WITNESS HOTLINE @ 240-313-2031.

FOR DISTRICT COURT:      You may call our office at 240-313-2000 the day before your court date with the case number available and check to see if that case is still on the docket for that day.

Victim/Witness Assistance

DAY OF TRIAL

The trial may not start as early as scheduled.  Victims and witnesses will be questioned by the prosecutor, and then the defense attorney will have the opportunity to "cross examine" them. The defense attorney must protect his client's rights and this may involve closely scrutinizing the testimony. Victims and witnesses should not let the defense attorney's questions upset them. They should remain calm and answer the questions as best they can.

Please dress appropriately for court.  You WILL NOT be permitted in the court room wearing shorts, hat (except for religious reasons), sandals, undershirts, tank tops, and halter-tops. Items such as food, beverages, radios, recorders, cameras or weapons are not allowed in the courthouse.  No camera cell phones will be permitted.

SUGGESTIONS TO VICTIMS AND WITNESSES

  • Be on time.
  • Testify honestly and completely. Do not exaggerate.
  • Try to recall information accurately in your mind before testifying.
  • Speak loudly and clearly.  Do not answer with a nod for “yes” or “no”. 
  • Dress appropriately for court...business attire is a good idea.
  • Immediately stop speaking when the judge interrupts you or an attorney makes an objection.
  • Do not argue with a lawyer.  Treat both lawyers and the judge with courtesy and respect.
  • In order to achieve a positive outcome, you must cooperate with the police, prosecutor and Victim Assistant.
  • Be sure the prosecutor and Victim Assistant are aware of your expectations and concerns regarding the case.
  • Be sure that the Victim Assistant has your daytime telephone number.  Immediately notify us of any address or telephone change.
  • Please wait your turn to speak in the courtroom.  DO NOT yell out or talk with others while court is in session
  • Remember to stand when addressing the court.
  • Cell phones are not permitted inside the court houses.
  • Avoid distracting habits such as chewing gum.
  • Please note the courthouses are smoke free buildings.

CHILDREN

Children are not permitted in the courtroom; unless subpoenaed to testify.  We understand the fears and anxieties a court room can be for young children and take great effort in alleviating to ease those fears.  

EMPLOYER INTERCESSION

Coming to court to testify as a State's witness is both a civic duty and a legal obligation. If your employer needs any assistance from us regarding your status as a State's witness, please let us know.

LINKS

 

Victim/Witness Assistance


AS A VICTIM OF CRIME, YOU HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO:

  • Obtain information about your case, including current status
  • Financial Assistance
  • Crime victim advocates
  • Receive and submit a "Crime Victim Notification Request and Demand for Rights Form"
  • Attend all adult and certain juvenile criminal justice proceedings
  • Request restitution
  • Submit a written statement and speak at sentencing/disposition
  • Be informed of the release, transfer, escape, or death of an inmate
  • Attend and testify at parole hearings

For more information about Washington County State's Attorney's Office victim and witness services, please call 240-313-2000.

Click here to view the VICTIM ASSISTANCE BROCHURE

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

Everyone who has been a victim of a crime is asked to complete a Victim Impact Statement. This Statement is used by the court in determining sentences and is a chance for victims to describe how the crime has affected their lives. Victim Impact Statement Form

RESTITUTION AND PROPERTY FORM

The Victim Services Unit of the State's Attorney's Office assists in the financial reimbursement of victims who have suffered out-of-pocket expenses resulting from a criminal offense.  This information will be made accessible to the judge and where appropriate, the court may order the defendant to reimburse you for your losses as part of the sentence.  Restitution Form and Medical Bills Restitution Form.

The police authorities may be holding your property until  the trial and any appeals are concluded.  There are legal reasons for this.  This office will assist with the return of property held in evidence by the police or the court. When possible, we will ask for prompt property return soon after a defendant is charged.

CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION BOARD

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board provides financial assistance to innocent victims of crime who have suffered physical injury.

Click here for more information

Click here for CICB application form

CRIME VICTIM NOTIFICATION REQUEST AND DEMAND FOR RIGHTS FORM (VNR)

In 1996, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that gives victims of violent crimes the right to be notified of all court proceedings, and if the offender is incarcerated, the right to be notified of their release. If you wish to be notified, you must fill out a Crime Victim Notification Request and Demand for Rights Form, which may be obtained from the Washington County State's Attorney's Office. To receive a form, please call (240) 313-2000.

Click here to see a sample of VNR form

Click here t o view Your Rights as a Victim in the Criminal Juvenile Justice Process Brochure (pdf format)

 

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT RESTITUTION
When a crime is committed against an individual and the perpetrator is arrested, prosecuted and found guilty of the crime, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution as a part of his sentence.
Restitution is a form of reimbursement for victims of criminal cases for actual out-of-pocket expenses, losses, damages, and injuries suffered by the victim(s) as a result of the defendant's criminal conduct. Restitution does not cover any punitive damages.
If you feel you are owed restitution through a criminal case that you are involved with, you must inform the Police Department that assisted you or the State's Attorney's Office prior to the cases completion. In order to receive your restitution, keep all copies of any bills, receipts, insurance documentation, and estimates relating to the actual out-of-pocket expenses, losses, damages, and injuries you have incurred as a result of the defendant's criminal conduct. You will be required to make this information available to the court for review. Please keep the State's Attorney's Office informed of any addresses changes that may occur.
Unfortunately, restitution is not a guarantee. If a defendant is found not guilty, you may have to pursue restitution through civil litigation. If a defendant is found guilty but refuses to pay restitution or is unable to comply with restitution, the State's Attorney's Office will attempt enforcement procedures against the defendant. However, a defendant may be allowed to satisfy restitution through other forms of sentencing options. These sentencing options are at the discretion of the court.
When a judge sentences a defendant in a criminal case to pay restitution, the restitution will either be ordered payable through the State's Attorney's Office or through the Department of Probation. Any questions that you may have relating to restitution should be addressed to the following agencies:
  • If your restitution is ordered through Probation, you may contact the Parole & Probation Department at (240) 420-5140.
  • If your restitution is ordered payable through the State's Attorney's Office or if you are unsure of where your restitution is ordered through, you may contact the Victim Services Unit at (240) 313-2000. Regular office hours are 7:30AM to 4:30PM, Monday through Friday

VICTIM INFORMATION AND NOTIFICATION EVERYDAY (VINE)
In addition to completing the Crime Victim Notification Request and Demand for Rights Form, victims may also register for VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday). VINE is a free service which allows crime victims across Maryland to receive automated, timely, and reliable information about criminal cases 24 hours a day - over the telephone, through the Internet, or by e-mail. Victims can also request to be notified about the current status of an inmate and can register to be notified immediately upon a change in the inmate's status, such as a release, escape, or court appearance. For more information or to register for notification please call 1-866-634-8463 or www.vinelink.com .

Click here to view VINE Brochure (pdf format)

KEEP US INFORMED

It is very important that victims and witnesses keep the State's Attorney's Office informed of their current address and telephone number so that we can contact them about their case. If victims or witnesses move, they must call their Victim/Witness Coordinator. NOTIFY US HERE!

FOR CHILDREN

Click here for a KIDS COURT coloring book.

Victim/Witness Assistance


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