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Victim Witness Assistance

Tonya Hall-Director
Dougherty Judicial Circuit
Albany Dougherty Judicial Building
225 Pine Ave Room 224
Post Office Box 1827
Albany, Georgia 31702-1827
Phone-(229) 438-3985
Fax-(229) 438-3940
Victim Assistance Crisis Line - 432-8181 


The Georgia Legislature enacted the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights which moves the criminal justice system in the direction of protecting the rights of the victims. The purpose of the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights is to ensure the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, increase effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording rights and considerations to victims of crime, and to preserve and protect victims' rights to justice and fairness in the criminal justice system. In this office we recognize the impact crime has had on victims, and support the important role victims play in criminal justice processes. We will work to ensure victims are treated fairly and respectfully and provide services that lessen the impact of the crime and restore victims' losses. We seek to remove all potential barriers (physical, psychological, cultural, etc.) to our services and the services of the judicial system and we will do all we can to see that justice is served.

Gregory W. Edwards

If you are a witness...
If you receive a subpoena to appear in court, you are required by law to attend. Remember, your cooperation is very important to the prosecution of the person accused of the crime. Unfortunately, court hearings are often passed (that is they are postponed) for any number of reasons. If you receive a subpoena for the Superior Court, please call Victim-Witness Assistance at 229-438-3985 prior to your scheduled court appearance. Victim Witness Assistance will inform you of any changes in the next day's scheduled hearings and could help you avoid unnecessary trips to the courthouse.

If you are a victim...
No one expects to be a victim of a crime. One American household in three is victimized every year. If you or someone close to you is affected by crime, you may be shocked, angered, or shamed. And you will most probably feel helpless and confused.

The Criminal Justice System has traditionally ignored the special needs of victims while concentrating on protecting the rights of the accused. But the tide is changing.

Victim Witness Assistance is here to offer crime victims and witnesses emotional support during the aftermath of crime and guidance through the maze of the criminal justice system.

Questions You May Have As A Victim or Witness
1. What should I do if I witness a crime? First, call the police. Tell them what you saw and heard. If a serious crime has been committed, the police may call a district attorney to review evidence and talk to you and other people who witnessed the crime.

2. Why am I important?
Without witnesses, criminals often cannot be convicted. What you do know about a crime may be crucial for convincing a criminal. No matter how unimportant your information may seem to you, it may help to determine what really happened and help fight crime.

3. What can I expect as a witness?
You will be asked to tell what you know about the case. You may be questioned by both the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney. Being a witness is very important; all you have to do is tell the truth.

4. How often will I have to go to court?
Every case is different. Sometimes the trial is postponed to avoid scheduling conflicts for the judge, defense lawyer, or prosecutor. This is called a continuance. The prosecutor or victim witness assistance will let you know as far in advance as possible when you should come to court.

5. What if the case doesn't go to trial?
Sometimes a witness' testimony is not needed. A case may be dismissed by the judge or dropped by the prosecutor before the trial. Often the defendant pleads guilty and accepts the punishment the judge imposes.

6. Do I have to talk to the defense attorney before the trial?
No. You do not have to talk to the defense attorney at all. But you may if you wish. If you would like to talk to the defense attorney in the presence of someone from the District Attorney's office, please let us know.

Your Rights

You have the right to be notified of:

A. The arrest of the accused.
B. Availability of victim services.
C. Availability of compensation for victims of violent crimes.
D. Any court appearances where release of the accused will be considered.
E. Release of the accused.
F. Court proceedings during the prosecution of the case.
G. Motion for new trial or appeal dates.
H. Parole or change in status of defendant, if you request this in writing.You have the right to:
A. Express your opinion on the release of the accused pending court proceedings.
B. Express your views on the outcome of the case prior to plea negotiations or sentencing of the accused.
C. Complete a Victim Impact Statement.

Your Responsibility

In order for you to be notified of various proceedings, you must provide the police with your name, address, and your home and work phone numbers. If there is an arrest and your phone number changes from the number you first gave police, you must notify the Jail and Victim Witness Assistance in the District Attorney's Office to be informed of criminal proceedings.

If the defendant is convicted and sent to prison and you want to be notified of parole or express you opinions prior to a parole decision, you must write the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 5th Floor East Tower, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30334. Also, if the defendant is sentenced to prison and you want to know of any change in his status while in prison,( such as furlough, work release, escape), send a letter to the Department of Corrections, Operations Division,2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30334. Victims Witness Assistance can assist you with any of this communication.

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