- Will I have to testify?
If you are a victim or a witness of a crime, you may have to testify in court. However, many cases plead without going to trial. If this happens, you will not be required to testify, as there will not be a trial. If you have concerns about testifying, contact the Victim/Witness Unit.
- Can I drop the charges?
No. The State of Washington has charged the defendant with a crime, not you. As you have not charged the crime, you cannot drop the charges. Reporting a crime is not the same as charging a crime.
- I have bills because of this crime. How can I get them paid?
If you have medical bills or funeral expenses resulting from a crime, CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION may cover expenses not covered by your insurance company, including deductibles and copays. You are responsible for paying most other bills. If a defendant is found guilty, he or she could be ordered to pay restitution to you and/or your insurance company. To have restitution ordered, you must provide the Victim/Witness Unit with a summary and receipts for your losses.
- I have been threatened or contacted by the defendant. What can I do?
It is essential that you report any contact from a defendant or his or her family/friends to law enforcement and/or the prosecutor's office immediately. This may be a violation. If you have evidence of the contact, such as voicemail, caller ID, a letter, or e-mail, save the evidence until law enforcement and/or the prosecutor's office says to do otherwise. If you have not already done so, you may wish to obtain a PROTECTION ORDER. The Victim/Witness Unit can also assist you in devising a safety plan.
- An attorney or investigator has been contacting me about the case. Do I have to talk to them?
If an attorney or investigator is contacting you, they most likely work for the defense. You have the right to speak with them or to decline to speak with them. The Victim/Witness Unit has Interview Request forms that an attorney or investigator can fill out if they would like to interview you. If you would like us to set up and/or attend the interview with you, please have the attorney or investigator fill out an Interview Request Form. You NEVER have to speak with someone simply because they show up at your home/work or call you. Victims and witnesses often feel pressured to talk immediately, but you DO NOT have to do so.
- I gave a statement to law enforcement. Why do I have to be interviewed?
Statements given to law enforcement are rarely complete. They often lack details that help the prosecutor or defense attorney better understand the case. Your interview may help us obtain more detail about what occurred.
- Can someone attend the interview with me?
Yes. You have the right to have someone of your choosing (an advocate, friend, or someone from the prosecutor's office) attend interviews with you, if there is not a conflict. An example of a conflict would be that the person you wish to attend the interview with is also a witness in the case. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that whoever attends the interview with you may become a witness at trial. If you have someone in mind that you want to attend trial with you, it is best NOT to have that person attend the interview with you as well.
- Will the defendant go to prison or jail?
It depends on the type of crime and the defendant's criminal history. When convicted some defendants may go to prison (if the time ordered is longer than 12 months) or jail (if the time ordered is less than 12 months) or they may be ordered to complete community service or some other alternative sentence.
- Can I contact the defendant?
Victims and witnesses are frequently asked not to contact defendants until a case is over. In some cases, contact with the defendant may be prohibited. If you and the defendant were living together, the court will frequently order the defendant to find another place to stay if released from jail.
- How can I be notified if the defendant is released from jail?
There are two methods.
The first and best is to register through the Washington Statewide Victim Information and Notification Service. You can register online or by phone. To register online, go to vinelink.com and click on Washington State. Follow the directions. To register by phone, call 1 (877) 846-3492.
The other method is to contact the Grant County Jail at (509) 754-2011 ext. 2400 and request that they notify you if the defendant is released.
You will not be notified unless you register through one of these methods. There is no automatic notification unless you register.
- How could the defendant plead "not guilty?" I saw him do it/He confessed.
In our justice system, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Almost all defendants plead "not guilty" when charged with a crime. They may decide to change their plea after talking with a lawyer, or they may decide to go to trial and require that the State prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Can I obtain restitution for things such as pain, suffering, and mental anguish?
Not through the criminal justice system. Restitution is ordered for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the crime. If you would like to seek compensation for pain and suffering, you may wish to file a civil suit. However, neither the Victim/Witness Unit nor the Grant County Prosecuting Attorney's Office can advise you in such a matter.
- What is a protection order? How can I get one?
A protection order is an order that prohibits the respondent from contacting you. There are several kinds of protection orders, including an Order for Protection (for domestic violence cases,) No Contact Order, Restraining Order, and Anti-Harassment Order. You can apply for a protection order at the clerk's office for District or Superior Court. There may or may not be a charge to obtain a protection order.
- How do I know when and where to go to court?
If you are a witness to a crime and you must appear at trial, you will receive a subpoena from the Grant County Prosecuting Attorney or another attorney in the case. The subpoena should state where and when you must appear. When you are subpoenaed for trial, you can check the trial run the day before trial to see if the case is going to trial, has been continued, or has been resolved. You are normally subpoenaed to appear at the Grant County Superior Court.