When a crime has been reported, the responding officer’s first concern is for the safety of all involved. Once the officer has established that the victim and anyone else involved at the scene are safe, the investigation begins.
The officer may need to ask many questions that you may feel are unnecessary, unfair, or accusatory. But, these questions are a vital part of the investigation and are not intended to offend the victim. The information you provide could assist in the possible apprehension and conviction of the suspect. As the victim of or witness to the crime, you are the most valuable part of the investigation process.
Once a suspect has been arrested, bond will be set in accordance with the type of crime committed. The more serious the crime, the higher the bond. Bond is money paid as a condition of a pre-trail release used to ensure return of the accused for trial proceedings. If a person is unable to obtain a personal recognizance bond authorized by a judge or to post a cash bond, they will remain incarcerated until a bond reduction hearing is held or a disposition of the case is reached.
Once a suspect has been arrested and charged with a crime, the case is filed with the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney will then appear at the court proceedings on behalf of the state. It is the District Attorney’s responsibility to present the case and allowable evidence to the court. The victim’s testimony is often crucial to the successful prosecution of the case.
Unfortunately, the investigation and judicial process of a case is time-consuming, and resolutions come slowly. Sometimes, sufficient evidence is not found to substantiate the criminal charges being filed. Sometimes the suspect is never arrested, or the case may be closed pending further leads or information. In other cases, a suspect may be arrested at the crime scene, or a warrant may be issued for his/her arrest, shortly thereafter.
All victims have the right to appear and to testify at the sentencing of the convicted if they so desire. If the victim decides not to appear or speak at the sentencing, he/she may address the court through written correspondence prior to the sentencing date.
Everyone accused of a crime, regardless of its nature, has the right to a fair trial and all victims of crimes have a right to be heard.