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If you are a witness to a crime you may be subpoenaed to testify if the case goes to trial. Being called to testify as a witness is a big responsibility. A witness who testifies in a criminal case plays an important role within the justice system by assisting authorities in holding offenders accountable for the crimes they perpetrate against innocent victims. The police, state attorneys, judges, and juries could not make informed decisions without the cooperation of truthful witnesses.
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Get to a safe place and immediately call 911 or the police department in the town in which the crime occurred. File a police report giving as many details as possible about what occurred, when, where, who was present, what was said, how you can be contacted, etc. The police will investigate the crime and will bring it to the attention of the LaSalle County State's Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges, and the police will make an arrest, if appropriate. Always call the police first.
The police department in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred investigates the crime. When the police believe they have enough evidence to make an arrest they bring the information to the LaSalle County State's Attorney's Felony or Misdemeanor Review Division to file charges. The State's Attorney's Office does not investigate crimes. That is the duty of the police.
In the case of a felony, the LaSalle County State's Attorney Felony Review Division prosecutors review information supplied by the investigating police department and determines which criminal charges best apply under the Illinois Compiled Statutes for Criminal Law.
Misdemeanor charges are determined by the investigating police department, except in certain situations where they are reviewed by the State's Attorney's Office. As misdemeanor cases are being prosecuted, the assistant state's attorney on the case may file different or additional charges.
An Indictment is when the Grand Jury finds probable cause to charge the defendant.
An arraignment is held at which time the defendant is present and formally charged with the crime and informed of his legal rights. Most defendants charged with violent felony crimes will plead not guilty initially at the arraignment date and be given future court dates to appear.
In violent-crime cases, a sentencing hearing is scheduled approximately 6 weeks after the trial ends. A pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) will be completed by the probation department for the judge to review before sentencing the defendant. The victim also has the right to present a victim impact statement (VIS) at the sentencing hearing. The VIS must be done in writing in conjunction with the State's Attorney's Office prior to the sentencing. Please contact the assigned victim-witness coordinator for assistance with the VIS.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled after a defendant changes his plea from a not guilty to a plea of guilty in front of the judge and has waived his/her rights to a trial, or after a trial and the defendant is found guilty of the crime. At the sentencing hearing, the judge determines what is going to happen to the defendant as a result of committing the crime. Sentences can vary depending on the crime committed and a variety of factors taken into account. Violent-crime victims have the right to present a victim impact statement done in writing in conjunction with the State's Attorney's Office at the sentencing hearing.
The PSI is like a miniature biography on the defendant’s life and criminal history. It is a confidential report that only the prosecutor, defense, and judge are allowed to read. The report is written by the LaSalle County Probation Department and may contain a victim analysis section summarizing the impact the crime has had on the victim(s) in addition to facts about the defendant who is waiting to be sentenced for the crime committed.
The defendant will be transported to prison from the LaSalle County Jail. Inmates in prison can be tracked on the Illinois Department of Corrections website click on inmate search. It will show which prison facility the offender will be housed, which county he/she was sentenced in, and his/her tentative release date will be posted. You can also request in writing to be notified of the defendant's status, or sign up with the automated victim notification system to be notified of changes in the inmate's status.
Each sentence varies depending on the crime. Additionally, offenders can receive credit for time served while in custody awaiting disposition. Most crimes are served 50% a day for a day good time, some violent crimes are served at higher percentages; 85%. First-degree murder is the only crime that is served at 100% of the sentence. It is best to get a full explanation of potential incarceration time from the prosecutor who handled the case.
Maybe. Restitution is the out-of-pocket expenses (not covered by insurance or other means) the victim has from medical bills and damages as a result of the defendant's criminal actions against them. The prosecutor will seek restitution in criminal cases whenever documentation is provided and reasonable. Sometimes a restitution amount cannot be agreed upon and a hearing is requested for the judge to determine the amount. Victims are responsible to provide all necessary documentation for restitution. Situations, where restitution would not be ordered in criminal cases, would be a finding of not guilty or the defendant is sentenced to serve time in the department of corrections (prison) or documentation was not available, or the court does not find the amount reasonable through the criminal court, etc.
Restitution is paid through the LaSalle County Circuit Clerks' office, not the State’s Attorney's Office. It is very important for crime victims to update any change of address with the circuit clerk restitution division. Checks are not forwarded if the victim moves and does not update their address.
Depending on the sentence it could be months or years. Offenders may take their entire probation sentence time to pay restitution. Payments vary depending on the ability or inability of the defendant or co-defendants to pay.
Although the judge may order restitution as part of the sentence. the defendant may still not pay or make full restitution through the criminal court. A petition to revoke could be filed for failure to pay and a hearing held. However unless it can be shown that the defendant willfully did not pay restitution and has the means to pay it, it is unlikely they would be penalized for not having the financial ability to pay restitution. If a defendant has successfully completed all other sentence terms, and/or some attempt to pay has been made, the court may terminate the case without payment of restitution.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program is through the Illinois Attorney General's Office for victims of "violent crime that occurred in the State of Illinois or are an Illinois resident that was victimized in another state or country that does not have a Crime Victim Compensation Program. They provide direct financial assistance to innocent victims of "violent crime to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses related to the crime. They will assist violent crime victims and families of homicide that do not have any other means to cover medical, burial, counseling, support, etc.
Go to the Attorney General's website. And click on crime victims or call the crime victims services toll-free at 800-228-3368. You may also contact your victim assistance coordinator in the State's Attorney's office. The coordinator can assist you with questions and help with the application process. Compensation is not guaranteed. Applicants must meet the criteria listed for violent crime victims to apply.
If you are an uninsured, violent-crime victim who was hospitalized first check with the hospital to apply under the Illinois Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act. (IHUPDA) This requires hospitals to give discounted care to eligible uninsured Illinois residents. Victims of violent crime may also apply to the Attorney General's Crime Victim's Compensation Program. Applications can be retrieved online at or call 800-228-3368 (TTY: 877-398-1130.)
In other cases, all documentation of bills should be forwarded to the investigating police department and also copies should be mailed or faxed to the prosecutor or victim coordinator assigned to your case as soon as possible. If the defendant pleas or is sentenced, they could be ordered to pay restitution as part of the sentence. Restitution will also be ordered in criminal court cases wherever practical and possible. Unfortunately, it is not always realistic in criminal cases for restitution to be ordered or paid, such as in severe injury involving several thousands of dollars, or when violent offenders are sentenced to prison for a long time such as in murder.
Visit the Illinois Attorney General's website.
Maybe. Your testimony would be required during a trial, or possibly at a special hearing date. However, only a small percentage of criminal cases actually go to trial. The majority of defendants eventually admit guilt in criminal cases and plead guilty. Commonly, this occurs in one of two ways: in a negotiated plea, the prosecutor and the defense agree to a sentence. and they present the plea to the judge for approval; alternatively, defendants sometimes simply plead guilty and the judge determines the sentence. If the defendant maintains his or her innocence in court and requests that the State prove criminal charges at trial, then victims and witnesses are subpoenaed to testify in court. Even if there is no trial, however, witness testimony is sometimes necessary or appropriate. For example, if the defendant pleads guilty to a crime, the victim of a violent crime may want to present a victim impact statement at the time of the plea or at the sentencing hearing.
To determine whether your testimony will be needed, you should call the LaSalle County State's Attorney's Office and speak to either the prosecutor or the victim witness assistance coordinator assigned to the case or courtroom. When you call, have the subpoena with you, because it contains the defendant's name, case number, courtroom, and other important information. If you are needed to testify, the State's Attorney's Office will work with you as best possible to keep to a minimum your time away from work, school, or other obligations. If you receive a subpoena and do not make direct contact with the prosecutor or assigned coordinator, then you must appear at the date and time the subpoena indicates.
The defense team (the defendant's attorney and/or investigator) represents the defendant in the case. It is strictly your decision whether to speak to the defense or not to speak to them. If you choose to speak to the defense and would like to have the prosecutor present you can request this. You should always request identification before speaking to unknown persons.
Your actual testimony in court may not take long, but your wait before testifying depends upon many factors. We will do our best to minimize your time however there may be several circumstances beyond our control. You should plan on at least a half day. The prosecutor or assigned coordinator will be able to give you some direction in this matter.
Yes, as long as they are not witnessing or have been subpoenaed to testify in the case. There is normally an exclusion of witnesses listening to other witness testimony. You would not be allowed to sit inside the courtroom after testifying until both sides have finished witness testimony. If you are going to bring someone in support, it is suggested that you introduce them to the coordinator or prosecutor on the case. There is certain court protocol that they may not be aware of and would be helpful for them to know.
Yes. The defendant is the accused and has the right to hear testimony and evidence brought against him/her. In most cases, the defendant is represented by a defense attorney who will be able to ask victims or witnesses questions on behalf of the defendant at trial. The prosecutor and victim coordinator will meet with you in advance of the trial to answer any questions or concerns you may have before testifying.