Crime Victim Rights / Witness Assistance
If you have ever been the victim of a crime, you know the devastation that can occur — physical, financial, mental and emotional suffering — at the hands of a criminal. Most victims experience one or more of these things. The prosecutor’s office is committed to helping these victims through the trauma. The state of Michigan now recognizes the rights of victims of crimes through our state constitution and laws.
The Emmet County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has been in compliance with the Crime Victim Rights Act since its inception in 1985. In 1988, our state constitution was amended by the voters to make the rights of crime victims a constitutional right. Additional legislative mandates over the years have also increased the prosecutor’s role in providing assistance to victims of crime. Victims of all felony offenses, serious misdemeanor offenses and serious juvenile offenses are entitled to victim rights.
What you need to know about crime victims’ rights:
Article I, Section 24 of the Michigan Constitution and the Michigan Crime Victim Rights Act give crime victims the right to:
- be treated throughout the criminal justice process with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy
- timely disposition of the case following 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 separate from the defendant and the defendant’s relatives and witnesses (if practical), and to receive an explanation of procedures to follow if threatened or intimidated by the defendant
- be free from threats or acts of discharge from your employer because you are subpoenaed or requested by the prosecutor to testify in court
- consult with the prosecutor to give your views about the disposition of the case
Crime victims also have the right to notice of:
- emergency and medical services from the investigating police agency
- the name of the person in the prosecutor’s office with information about your 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
- victim compensation benefits and the address of the Crime Victim’s Compensation Services, and an explanation of eligibility requirements for compensation funds
- trial and other court proceedings that the accused has a right to attend (except possible sequestration during a trial before you testify
A crime victim may also:
- confer with the prosecutor before trial and before the jury is selected
- make an oral statement to the pre-sentence investigator, or to have a written impact statement included in the pre-sentence investigation report
- make an oral statement to the judge at the time of sentencing
- receive restitution
- receive information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused
- receive an explanation of the appeal process, to be advised if the accused has been released on an appeal bond, to be advised of the time and place of appellate court proceedings and to be advised of the result of the appeal
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 the 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 Advocate”.
The Crime Victim Advocate can help better inform you of your rights as a victim, inform you about the Michigan Victim Compensation Fund, aid you in seeking restitution for your losses, answer your questions concerning crime victims, orient you to the courtroom layout and accompany you to court if requested, and refer you to local, state, and national crime victim resources, especially local counseling agencies and support groups.
If you have been served with a subpoena on behalf of the prosecutor’s office, call the telephone number listed in the 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 Advocate to see if there is something still happening in court with your case.
For some of the most frequently asked questions about being a witness, see our web page titled “Witness Questions.”