Unfortunately, almost all of us have either been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been a crime victim. Our victim advocate, working with our prosecutors, attempts to make what can otherwise be a very traumatic and unpleasant experience for victims a little bit easier to understand and get through.
Some of the services we provide include referrals for counseling and support groups, crime victim compensation information, victim impact forms, orientation to the courtroom setting and accompanying victims to court when requested to do so.
Article I, Section 24 of the Michigan Constitution and the Michigan Crime Victims’ Rights Act give crime victims the right to:
- be treated throughout the criminal justice process with fairness and respect for their dignity;
- timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused;
- receive an explanation of court procedures;
- reasonable protection from the accused throughout the criminal justice process, including having a waiting area separated from the defendant and the defendant’s relatives and witnesses;
- receive an explanation of procedures to follow if threatened or intimidated by the defendant; and,
- consult with the Prosecuting Attorney to give input on the disposition of the case.
Crime victims also have the right to be notified of:
- Emergency and medical services from the investigating police agency;
- The name of the person in the Prosecutor’s Office with information about their case;
- All scheduled court proceedings, including sentencing;
- The defendant’s release on bond or escape from custody while awaiting trial;
- The address and telephone number of the probation department that is preparing the pre-sentence investigation report, if one is ordered by the judge;
- Trial and other court proceedings that the accused has a right to attend.
Crime victims also have the right to:
- Confer with the prosecution before trial and before the jury is selected;
- Make an oral statement to a pre-sentence investigator, or to have a written impact statement included in the pre-sentence report;
- Receive restitution;
- Receive information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused;
- Receive an explanation of the appeal process, to advise if the defendant has been released on an appeal bond;
- Be advised of the time and place of appellate court proceedings and to be advised of the result of an appeal; and,
- Finally, to have the right to the prompt return of your property taken during an investigation, except as otherwise provided by law.
Victims naturally look to the criminal justice system for vindication and justice, but sometimes find a criminal justice system designed to protect the rights of those that have caused them harm. Unfortunately, most victims don’t see this until they have become a victim.
To help a victim understand the criminal justice process better, there is a trained staff member in the prosecutor’s office who supports and assists victims of crime whenever possible. Their title is “Crime Victim Coordinator”.
The Crime Victim Coordinator can help better inform you of your rights as a victim, aid you in seeking restitution for your losses, answer your questions concerning crime victims, familiarize you to the courtroom layout and accompany you to court if requested and refer you to local, state and nation crime victim resources, especially local counseling agencies and support groups. If you have any questions regarding this kind of matter please contact Heather Rowe at (231) 873-6751.
If you have been served with a subpoena on behalf of the prosecutor’s office, call the telephone number listed in subpoena after 5:00 p.m. the night before you are scheduled to be in court. A tape recording will announce if witnesses are still needed in court on the case the following day. This will help avoid an unnecessary trip to the courthouse. Even though you may not be needed as a witness, the case may still proceed, so check with the Crime Victim Coordinator to see if there is something still happening in court with your case.