The following information has been prepared to help answer questions that may arise. We have included information which will give you an understanding of how the Federal criminal justice system works.
The role of the United States Attorney’s Office is to prosecute cases fairly and justly. Our actions on your behalf do not constitute an attorney-client relationship and we cannot give you legal advice. The interests of the United States may occasionally diverge from your interests as a victim.
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused;
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused;
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding;
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding;
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case;
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law;
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay;
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
The Criminal Justice Process
As the case moves through the Federal court system, there are several events that typically occur.
DETENTION HEARING (POSSIBLE)
The Government is seeking to detain of the defendant and may do so based on the statement of the prosecutor or by presenting witnesses and exhibits.
A Judge determines if there is sufficient probable cause to charge the defendant. This only occurs if the defendant has not been charged by the Grand Jury.
or GRAND JURY HEARING
A Grand Jury hears evidence in a non--public proceeding and may issue a formal charge called an Indictment. An Arrest Warrant may be issued at this time.
A defendant appears in court and hears the charge(s) against him/ her. At this time, the defendant typically enters a plea of not guilty.
DISCOVERY, PLEA NEGOTIATIONS & MOTIONS
This may include hearings & rulings on motions concerning the admissibility of evidence, trial issues, or a possible guilty plea from the defendant.
The Government presents its case with witnesses, followed by the defendant’s case. The trial generally results in a verdict by a jury.
PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION & REPORT PREPARED
After a finding of guilt, a pre-sentence report is prepared for the judge by U.S. Probation, at which time you have the right to submit written victim impact statements.
The Emotional Impact of Crime
Many victims and witnesses to crime are emotionally affected by their experience and although everyone reacts differently, many people report common reactions such as:
- Feelings of panic and/or anxiety
- Nightmares and sleep pattern changes
- Feelings of self-doubt, shame or guilt
- Reliving what happened
- Depression, difficulty concentrating
- Increased concern for personal safety and that of their family
Many people continue to have these responses for some time after the crime. The Victim-Witness Program can assist you in finding appropriate support services.
Restitution and Compensation
The Victim Compensation Program for the State of Georgia helps cover expenses for eligible victims of violent crime who have suffered physical or psychological injury due to the victimization. The Crime Victim Compensation Program may be able to reimburse you for crime related expenses such as medical expenses, mental health expenses, lost wages/ loss of support, funeral expenses, and/ or crime scene clean-up. The claim needs to be filed within 1 year of the crime. To obtain further information on eligibility requirements and an application, contact the Victim Witness Coordinator or Victim Witness Specialist.
Under Federal law, restitution is mandatory for many (but
not all) types of crimes. It is important for victims, who may be entitled to restitution, to keep a record of their losses, medical expenses, property damage and counseling expenses, with receipts when possible. This information will be needed by the probation department if the defendant is convicted and ordered to pay restitution.
If You Are Threatened of Harassed
If anyone threatens you or you feel that you are being harassed because of your cooperation with this case, there are remedies available. Your safety is para-mount. Please contact the investigating agent or the Victim - Witness Program immediately. They may discuss with you additional safety measures and assistance such as temporary restraining orders, possible relocation, or other appropriate referrals.
Other Assistance and Services
If you are a victim, you are entitled to:
- Notification of case events, usually by letter or E-mail, through the Victim Notification System. If the defendant is convicted and sentenced to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, notification will continue regarding the defendant’s release date, furlough, or escape. REMINDER: please keep us informed of any address, E-mail, or telephone number changes.
- Referrals to other agencies or professionals for counseling, shelter, and/or compensation.
If you are a victim or a witness, you are entitled to:
- A separate waiting area away from defendant and defense witnesses.
- Courtroom support.
- Information and assistance with travel, lodging, parking, and reimbursement for mandatory court appearances and pre-trial interviews
Limited Confidentiality Statement
We are here to assist you as you go through the criminal justice process. However, you should know that we work as part of a team with the criminal prosecutor and the investigative case agent. We do our best to keep sensitive information confidential. As part of the team, there are times when we may need to share information you provide with the other team members. This is especially important if you share information regarding your safety, a medical emergency, information that relates to child abuse, and/or information that is critical to the investigation or prosecution of the case.
If in Crisis, call: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK