Victim/Witness Program

Victim/Witness Assistance

     
Hours Location Telephone
8:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.  Racine County District Attorney Office Phone: (262) 636-3858
and 1:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.  730 Wisconsin Avenue Phone: (800) 924-1506
Mon. thru. Fri. (excluding holidays)  Racine, WI 53403  

The Victim Witness Assistance Program, an arm of the Racine County District Attorney's Office, is in place to assist victims and witnesses through the criminal court process. Chapter 950 of the Wisconsin State Statues outlines the program function to ensure that all victims and witnesses of crime are treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity; and the rights extended in Chapter 950 to victims and witnesses of crime are honored and protected by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges in a manner no less vigorous then the protections afforded criminal defendants.

Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime:
  • You have the right to know the final disposition of your case.
  • You have the right to be notified if a court proceeding will not go as scheduled.
  • You have the right to receive protection from harm.
  • You have the right to be informed of financial assistance, and other Social Services available.
  • You have a right to a Witness Fee.
  • You have a right to a secure waiting area during court proceedings.
  • You have a right to have property speedily returned whenever possible.
  • You have a right to employer intercession services.
  • You have a right to a speedy disposition.
  • Families of Homicide Victims have all rights offered to victims.

What Are We?

  • An agency sensitive to the many and varied needs of victims and their families.
  • A source of information and support for victims.
  • A mediator and advocate for victims of crime in the criminal justice system.

What can we do for Victims and Witnesses?

  • Explain how the court process works.
  • Notify you when criminal charges have been issued.
  • Upon request, provide information to you concerning case status (what is happening to your court case).
  • Upon request, advise you of when and where your case will be heard.
  • Go to court with you for emotional support, if necessary.
  • Cancel witnesses in enough time to avoid an unnecessary trip to court.
  • Notify you of the disposition or final outcome of your case.
  • Assist in early property return from law enforcement agencies.
  • Assist with submitting your restitution claim to the District Attorney.
  • Help you fill out a Crime Victim Compensation application, if you are injured as a victim of a crime.
  • Refer you and your family to community agencies, as necessary.

       


  

  

 

The Criminal Court Process

 

Misdemeanor Crime

A crime that may be punishable by confinement to a county jail for less than 1 year.

A. District Attorney’s Office

A misdemeanor complaint is filed for a victim by a police agency. The case is reviewed by an Assistant District Attorney, who after reviewing the facts, decides whether to issue a complaint.

B. Arraignment

At this initial appearance or arraignment the judge or court commissioner set bail, takes defendant’s plea of guilty or not guilty, appoints an attorney if the defendant is in financial need, and sets a date for a pretrial hearing if the plea is not guilty. If the plea is guilty, the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a future date.

C. Pretrial Conference

When there is a not guilty plea entered, a pretrial conference is held with the defendant, his attorney, the Assistant District Attorney and a court commissioner. If a plea agreement is reached here and the plea is changed to guilty, a date will be set for a change of plea before a judge. If the plea remains not guilty, a date is set for trial before a judge or before a jury.

D. Change of Plea Hearing

This occurs before a judge when a defendant changes a not guilty plea to guilty or no contest. Sentencing may occur here or a date will be set.

E. Motions

A motion is a verbal or written request about a legal question made by the prosecutor or the defense attorney before, during or after a trial, asking the court to issue a rule or an order.

F. Trial

After all motions are heard, if there is not a change of plea, the trial will begin as scheduled. If the defendant is found guilty, a date is set for sentencing. If he/she is found not guilty, this is the end of the court proceedings.

G. Sentencing

Sentencing occurs after a guilty plea or finding of guilt by jury or court. Victims and witnesses may be present in court for the sentencing.

Felony Crime

A crime that may be punishable by confinement for 1 year or more in a state prison.

1. District Attorney’s Office

A felony complaint is filed for a victim by a police agency. The case is reviewed by an Assistant District Attorney who, after reviewing the facts, decides whether to issue a formal complaint.

2. First Appearance

At the first appearance the defendant makes is or her initial appearance. The judge reads the complaint, sets bail and appoints an attorney if the defendant is in financial need. A date is set for a Preliminary Hearing.

3. Preliminary Hearing

In felony cases, a Preliminary Hearing must be held. The judge hears testimony to decide if the State has probable cause to believe a crime was committed and the defendant probably committed it. If the judge feels the State has enough evidence to make the defendant stand trial, the case will continue and is "bound over" for trial in court.

4. Arraignment

After a Preliminary Hearing and a finding of probable cause, the defendant appears in court for the Arraignment at which time the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty and can assert his right to request a jury trial. If there is a guilty plea, there is a date set for sentencing. If there is not a guilty plea, a date is set for trial. There may also be several court dates set for Motion hearings.

5. Motions

A motion is a verbal or written request about a legal question made by the prosecutor or the defense attorney before, during or after a trial, asking the court to issue a rule or order/

6. Pretrial

A pretrial conference is held before the trial, between the defendant, his attorney, and Assistant District Attorney and a court commissioner. At this hearing, a plea agreement may result in a change of plea to guilty. If a change of plea does not occur the exact date and time of the jury trial will be set.

7. Change of Plea Hearing

This occurs before a judge, and a defendant changes a not guilty plea to guilty or no contest. Sentencing may occur here or a date will be set.

8. Trial

After all motions are heard, if there is not a change of plea, the trial will begin. If the defendant is found guilty, a date is set for sentencing. If he/she is found not guilty, this is the end of the court proceedings.

9. Sentencing

Sentencing occurs after a guilty plea or finding of guilt by jury or court. Victims and witnesses may be present in court for the sentencing.

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