The State's Attorney's Office protects the rights of victims of crime and informs victims of their rights while they are involved in the criminal justice process.
How We Help
- Our office provides direct assistance and information regarding court proceedings Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- We help solve problems caused by necessary court appearances, such as being excused from work.
- We provide a secure waiting room for witnesses making court appearances and escort them from the waiting room to the courtroom.
- We aid eligible victims in seeking court-ordered restitution for stolen property, as well as compensation for physical injuries.
- We provide information about social services available to crime victims.
- We encourage victims to describe in a written Victim Impact Statement the harm the crime has caused and how the crime has affected their lives. This Statement is used by the court in determining sentences.
Our well-trained staff of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit helps guide victims and witnesses through the sometimes complex criminal justice system. The successful prosecution of criminal cases depends mainly on the support and assistance victims and witnesses provide, especially their willingness to testify in court. It is our responsibility to ensure that victims and witnesses are treated with dignity and respect.
The Victim/Witness Assistance Unit also conducts a bi-monthly Homicide Survivors Support Group which provides short-term grief counseling, referrals, informational materials and a resource library to spouses, children, siblings, parents and other family members of victims who have been murdered in Prince George's County.
What You Need To Know
Victims and witnesses will be assigned a Victim/Witness Coordinator who will be available to answer questions and provide any assistance they need.
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.
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.
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.
The Day of the Trial
The trial may not start as early as scheduled, so we suggest bringing reading material. 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.
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. If they call the State's Attorney's Office after 5:00 p.m., a recorded message will also list changes.
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.
Pleas of Guilty
In some cases, the defendant will enter a plea of guilty to specific offenses. If a defendant pleads guilty, there will be no trial and the testimony of victims and witnesses will not be needed. Many defendants plead guilty before the trial, once they are convinced witnesses are willing to testify against them in court.
The victim's appearance at the sentencing is not required. However, the victim's Victim Impact Statement will be given to the sentencing judge. Victims are informed by letter of the sentence imposed.
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.
Victim Notification Form
This form is filed with the Court file and allows victims and witnesses to receive notice of hearings after a case has gone to sentencing.