While the criminal justice system cannot undo the damage done to crime victims, the Prosecutor’s Office is dedicated to providing information and assistance in order to minimize the unpleasant effects of a difficult situation. Because victim and witness participation is vital to pursuing any criminal matter, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program considers your input and opinions essential in bringing criminals to justice. With a cooperative effort from the victim, witnesses, and the Prosecutor’s Office, we will more effectively prosecute those who have violated the law and provide valuable services to those who have been adversely affected by crime.
We also can be a liaison between the prosecutor’s office and the victim and law enforcement. Sometimes the staff at Victim Assistance is just a friendly ear to listen to problems that victims are having and giving them information and guidance about the criminal justice system. There are no fees for our services.
When he took office in January of 2011, current Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney Nick Hermann took a particular interest in victim assistance for women and children, often our most vulnerable citizens. The office instituted sweeping changes of “vertical prosecution” to better prosecute domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children. Click here for more information on this division.
Victim Bill of Rights
Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect throughout the criminal justice process; and as defined by law, to be informed of and present during public hearings and to confer with the prosecution, to the extent that exercising these rights does not infringe on the constitutional rights of the accused.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there someone in the Prosecutor’s Office who can answer my questions? If you have questions about your rights, the court process, or the Victims of Violent Crime Compensation Fund, you may contact the Director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program at 812-435-5158. The director of the Victim/Witness Program can also help you if you need information about your case, information about protective orders, or referrals to community victim service programs.
- What if someone threatens me while my case is pending? It is a crime for anyone to threaten, harass or intimidate you to prevent you from testifying at any court proceeding. If anyone uses force or threatens to harm you or a member of your family, report the threat immediately to your local law enforcement agency and notify the Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible.
- What if I want to drop charges? As a matter of policy, the Prosecutor does not routinely drop charges; therefore, a victim should be certain of his/her actions when pursuing charges. Only the Prosecutor can drop charges against a defendant; however you should let the Prosecutor’s Office know if you no longer wish to proceed with the case. While the Prosecutor will take your wishes into consideration, the Prosecutor must also take into consideration the safety of the community and other factors when making a decision to drop charges or proceed with the case.
- Can I be reimbursed for crime related costs? There are two ways by which you may receive money to help pay for crime related costs: 1) Restitution from the defendant/ juvenile offender: if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, the judge may order the defendant (or in cases involving juveniles, the juvenile and/or his or her parents) to reimburse you for any crime related costs. It is important that you save any receipts or copies of any bills you (or your insurance company) have paid or still owe. You will be asked for the receipts and bills if the defendant is found or pleads guilty. 2) Victims of Violent Crime Compensation Fund: available to victims of crime resulting in bodily injury or to immediate family members of a murder victim or sex crime victim, who need mental health counseling. This fund is not governed by the Prosecutor’s Office; the Violent Crime Compensation Fund in Indianapolis will respond directly to the victim. Applying for this funding is not a guarantee that an award will be received. The Victim Assistance Program will supply those who are eligible with an application upon filing a criminal charge. Applications can also be obtained by calling 317-232-7103.
A Protective Order is a legal document signed by a judge ordering the respondent to refrain from having any direct or indirect contact with the person requesting the protection. Protective orders are civil matters, but a criminal charge of Invasion of Privacy may be filed when a properly delivered protective order is violated. Protective orders may be obtained through the County Clerk’s Office in the Civic Center Complex, Room 216.
When charges are filed involving crimes of a personal nature (e.g. domestic violence, battery, child molestation, and sexual crimes, among others), the Prosecutor’s Office requests that No Contact Order (NCO) be issued as a condition of bond.
An NCO is an order signed by a judge prohibiting the defendant in a criminal case from having any direct or indirect contact with the victim. If an individual violates either a Protective Order or an NCO, the victim should contact the police immediately. Although the violator may be gone by the time the police arrive, victims should still fill out an offense report, in order to keep a record of evidence for future possible charges.
Your Role As A Witness
You may have been a victim of or an eye-witness to a crime. You may be the owner of stolen property, or be able to provide some piece of information which will help to prove a criminal case. You are an essential witness. Without your cooperation, our criminal justice system could not work.
You will receive a subpoena to appear at trial. It will be necessary for you to appear unless excused by the Deputy Prosecutor assigned to the case. Written statements are not permitted instead of live testimony because a person charged with a crime has a right to ask questions of the witnesses who testify against him/her through his/her attorney.
It is very important that you keep us informed of any changes in your address or phone number. We will not be able to notify you of trial dates or changes if we cannot locate you.