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Victim Assistance - FAQs

How do I get an order of protection or a restraining order?

An order of protection is done in family court for a household member (current or former spouse, have a child in common, or current or former cohabitation). You will need to take a copy of the incident report to the 2nd floor of the courthouse to fill out the paperwork. The clerk of court can assist you from there.

Restraining orders are for individuals who are not household members. You will need two incidents of harassment in the last 90 days to qualify. Restraining orders are given in magistrate court.

Do I need to come to first appearance?

Appearances are check in dates for individuals who have been charged with a general sessions crime. There is no judge present. This is a time for attorneys to meet with clients, solicitors to meet with defendants and their attorneys, and paperwork to be exchanged. No one other than the attorney and defendant are allowed to enter the courtroom due to the sheer number of people attending. Any updates or court dates that occur from appearances will be communicated to you as the victim through your victim service provider.

How quickly can I get restitution?

Restitution is usually a condition of a sentence or arrangement with the defendant through a program like Pre-Trial Intervention. Unfortunately, it will usually take time to get a victim restitution payments. As the victim, please make sure to turn in any receipts or estimates that you have for your property damage or medical bills as soon as possible to your victim service provider so the office can work on getting you that money as soon as possible.

How do I drop charges?

The solicitor has the ultimate control over which cases go forward in court and which do not. If you are interested in dropping the charges against a defendant please contact your victim service provider to set up a meeting with your solicitor.

What is a preliminary (pre-lim) hearing?

Preliminary hearings are conducted by law enforcement and are a probable cause hearing. At this hearing, law enforcement will testify to the judge concerning what probable cause they used to a get a warrant for this case. Victims have every right to attend, but will not testify. This hearing is requested by the defendant at bond court. 

Do I have to testify at trial?

As the victim, you are usually the main witness in a case. If a defendant requests a trial, you will have to testify and will be under a subpoena.

Do I need an attorney?

Solicitors are the prosecutors and the state’s representative. For a criminal matter, you do not need an attorney to represent you as this is the solicitor’s job. As a victim, you have every right to seek civil remedies and therefore would need to seek counsel or representation to help with that process.