Tama County Attorney
100 West High Street, P.O. Box 6
Toledo, Iowa 52342
Brent D. Heeren, Tama County Attorney - email@example.com
Geneva Williams, Assistant Tama County Attorney - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronda Burnes email@example.com
Lisa Heitman firstname.lastname@example.org
Your County Attorney is the legal advisor
chief law enforcement officer for your county.
Being a Witness, Your Duties, Your Rights
Victim Witness Program
County Attorney DOES
Prosecute all violations of state criminal laws and county ordinances.
Provide legal advice to the Board of Supervisors and county and township
officers concerning county matters.
Represent an defend the state, county and its officers in officially
Recover all monies (debts, fines, penalties, etc.) owing to the state
Present all mental health commitment proceedings and all juvenile
delinquency and child in need of assistance cases.
There are both full-time and part-time
County Attorneys in Iowa. Roughly two-thirds of all County Attorneys
are part-time and may handle private legal work in addition to their
County Attorney in his or her official capacity,
Give legal advice to or represent
private groups or persons.
File lawsuits for private persons or defend them against lawsuits,
including actions for dissolution of marriage.
Prepare wills, deeds or other legal documents for private individuals.
Being a Witness,
Your Duties, Your Rights
Iowa County Attorneys Association
pamphlet is intended to familiarize you with the criminal court system
in Iowa and your rights and obligations if you become a victim or
If you have specific questions or special needs, call the office
of your local County Attorney. Participation of citizens as witnesses
in criminal prosecutions is essential in the fight against crime.
Without the testimony of witnesses and victims, a prosecutor's case
will fall. Your help is both necessary and appreciated.
Keep in Touch
If you change address or phone number,
contact the Sheriff or Police Department investigating your case.
If the county Attorney filed a charge, notify that office. If you
have been subpoenaed, call the County Attorneys Office before
you go to Court to make sure you dont make an unnecessary trip.
Court cases are often rescheduled for a variety of reasons.
On rare occasions, witnesses are
threatened or harassed. Tampering with witnesses and harassment are
crimes. If this happens, contact the appropriate law enforcement department
and your County Attorney.
Pre-Trial Release of Defendant
Almost all Defendants are released
prior to trial. To ensure the safety of others and the appearance
of the Defendant at trial, release is subject to conditions imposed
by the court. The conditions may include posting money (bail), hours,
travel restrictions, and others. Your County Attorney may ask the
court to amend the conditions if necessary.
Knowingly making false statement
of material fact of falsely denying knowledge of a material fact is
perjury, a felony. If you are aware of possible perjury, contact the
appropriate enforcement agency or your County Attorneys Office
Unless you receive a subpoena, you
need not talk to a defense attorney, the Defendant, or anyone else
connected with the defense. Its all right to ask for identification
before you agree to talk to anyone. If the defense wants your statement,
they can subpoena you for a deposition (a formal sworn statement)
at which the County Attorney will be present. If the Defendant requires
a written statement, call your County Attorney.
Witnesses must appear and truthfully
testify under oath when subpoenaed. A subpoena indicates where you
should be and when. The prosecutor may ask you to report to the office
of the County Attorney first. Bring your subpoena along with you so
that you may claim your witness and mileage fees after you testify.
If you have any questions about
your testimony, call your County Attorney.
When you receive a subpoena, check
with your employer to find out what the company policy is regarding
you appearances in Court both before trial and at trial. Policies
vary widely and can depend on different circumstances. If you would
like, your prosecutor handling the case can call your employer or
provide a letter, which will explain the need for your appearance.
Witnesses are entitled to $10 for each full
day attendance and $5 for each attendance less than full day, plus
an allowance for each mile you traveled. In most counties, take your
subpoena to the Clerk of Court to claim your fees. If otherwise
your County Attorney will help you.
There are a variety of special services provided
for persons who are victims or witnesses. They include such varied
things as reparations, day care, parking, counseling, and others.
You may contact your local prosecutor, your local Department of Human
Services or a local low enforcement agency if you need assistance
in identifying or contacting providers of these service. Services
vary greatly from county to county.
Property Loss and Recovery
If you have had property stolen, report it to
the nearest law enforcement agency and your insurance company immediately.
If it is recovered it may be held for evidence. If you have a real
need for your property, call the Department that has
your property or the County Attorney. In some cases, you may have
to file a claim with the Clerk of Court to get your property back.
Usually evidence is returned after the completion of sentencing. The
Court may order convicted Defendants to pay restitution to victims.
In case of violent crime, you may also file a claim for
reparations with the State. Ask your prosecutor about the program.
Defense is a defendant or accused person,
the Defendant's attorney or their representative, such as an investigator.
An information or indictment
a formal accusation charging a person with a serious crime.
Minutes of Evidence are
a short summary of your expected testimony at a trial. The Minutes
may be sent to you. If they are incorrect, call your County Attorney
immediately to clear up any inaccuracies.
The Prosecutor is your
local County Attorney or assistant who prosecutes criminal cases in
the name of the State of Iowa in the District Court of your county.
The prosecutor determines what charges if any should be filed.
Reparation is payment
from a State program to reimburse innocent victims for medical expenses,
lost income and other losses resulting from violent crimes.
Restitution is a payment
by a Defendant to the victim ordered by the Court as part of Defendant's
sentence and based on Defendant ability to pay.
Sentencing is the responsibility
of the Judge. The Judge decides what penalties to inflict on a guilty
defendant. A prosecutor may only recommend penalties to the Judge.
A Subpoena is an official
Court Order commanding your appearance. It tells you where and when
you must be present. Failure to do so can result in being found in
contempt of Court and being liable for money damages. If you can't
directed, call your County Attorney immediately.
Traditionally, the Criminal
Justice System in this Country has been offender-oriented, primarily
concerned with the apprehension, prosecution, punishment and rehabilitation
of wrongdoers. However, the focus has begun to shift in the last decade,
especially in the last few years, towards victims and their rights.
This handbook has been developed to provide basic information about
the long, complex and sometimes confusing legal process. The Victim
Witness Program is available to answer questions about the general
process or the particular criminal case in which you are involved.
Please feel free to contact the program at 484-3020 from 8:00 am to
4:30 pm Monday through Friday if you have questions.
Steps of the Criminal Justice System
This is the basic process
followed, but not all cases go through each step. Sometimes
certain hearings can be waived and sometimes the case is continued
(delayed). The whole process may take two to six months or even longer.
Criminal cases cannot be prosecuted
unless witnesses come forward to testify. By your willingness to be
involved, you are working with other citizens, the police, the County
Attorney and the Courts to reduce crime.
of the Criminal Justice System
If the suspect was not arrested at
the time the crime was committed, there are options that may happen.
The Police/Sheriff's Department may continue with its investigation
until they feel they have enough evidence to charge the suspect. If
the Police/Sheriff's Department feel they already have enough evidence
and cannot locate the suspect, a warrant may be issued for his/her
arrest. Victims and witnesses may be called to police headquarters
during the course of investigation and/or after the arrest of the
Complaint and Affidavit Signed
Preliminary Hearing and or Information Filed
An arrest is made by the Police/Sheriff
Department or a citation to appear in Court is issued. A report by
the arresting officer is sent to the County Attorney's Office. The
County Attorney evaluates the facts, circumstances and evidence in
the case and determines if charges are to be filed. If you have sustained
damages, medical bills, lost wages, etc., submit the amount
of your losses, along with proof of payment or billing statements,
as soon as possible to the Victim Witness Program. Make sure to identify
who the defendant is so they can be submitted to the proper case.
Persons held in custody must be taken
before the Judge within 24 hours of arrest. The Initial Appearance
assures that the individual was properly charged, that the Complaint
and Affidavit on file is correct, that an Attorney is appointed for
the defendant (if necessary) and that a date is set for the preliminary
hearing. If the bail amount was not set in the arrest warrant, it
is set at this time.
or Trial Information
The purpose of the Preliminary Hearing
is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify holding
the defendant. The State presents evidence showing the defendant probably
committed the crime. However, the Preliminary Hearing almost never
happens because the same purpose is fulfilled by the filing of
the Trial Information (formal charge against the defendant).
The Arraignment is the formal accusation
of the defendant where a plea of guilty or not guilty is entered.
The defendant does not need to be present if a written arraignment
is filed on their behalf by their Attorney.
The majority of the time the defendant
will plead not guilty at arraignment and the Judge will then set a
trial date. A defendant may change the plea to guilty at any time.
Most defendants eventually choose to plead guilty.
Discovery of Evidence
The Defense Attorney has a right
to "discover" the State's evidence in the case. However,
defendants do not have to tell the prosecutor anything about their
defense unless the defendant gives a deposition. Discovery can include
viewing evidentiary documents and taking depositions (interviews under
oath) of the State's witnesses. The defendant has a right to a speedy
trial (right to have the case tried within 90 days of the filing of
information). Victims and witnesses will be contacted, or may receive
a subpoena, if the defense wishes to take their depositions. You may
request from the Victim Witness Program information on how to testify
simply by calling and scheduling an appointment with the Victim Witness
Coordinator or a Volunteer of the program. If you need transportation,
the Victim Witness Program will assist you.
A group of people are chosen at random
from public lists, such as voter registration lists. From this original
group, twelve are chosen to serve. The County Attorney and the Defense
Counsel choose the make-up of the Jury. Victims and witnesses are
not allowed in the courtroom at this procedure or until after they
Once the Jury has been chosen and
sworn in, the trial proceeds. Here again, not all trials proceed in
the same manner. The Victim Witness Program will prepare you for trial
and accompany you to trial. Once a criminal case has been filed and
you are a victim/witness, you have a legal obligation to appear and
testify. If you do not have transportation, the Victim Witness Program
will assist you.
A trial usually
consists of the following steps:
Opening Statements (State's and then
State's Witnesses and Evidence
Defense Witnesses and Evidence
Court's Instructions to the Jury
Jury's Deliberation (decision)
1. Hung Jury (cannot come to a unanimous
2. Not Guilty
After the plea or verdict of guilty,
the offender may be referred by the Judge to a probation officer who
interviews the offender to determine his special problems, such as
drugs/alcohol or a psychological evaluation. The officer then submits
a report to the Judge with recommendations regarding sentencing of
the offender. This is when victims have the right to Complete a Victim
Impact Statement. This document allows you to express your views about
the case to the Sentencing Judge.
Victims and witnesses have the right
to attend the Sentencing Hearing. Sentencing usually takes place two
to six weeks after a plea or verdict of guilty. All crimes are classified
in degrees of either a "felony" or misdemeanor." The
most common types of sentences imposed are:
1. Entry of Conviction and Imposition of sentence
--- defendant must serve the sentence that the Judge imposes.
2. Entry of Conviction and Suspended sentence
--- Judge pronounces sentence and then suspends all or part of it.
If the defendant then successfully completes a period of probation,
he/she will not have to serve the remainder of the sentence.
3. Deferred Judgment-- Judge does not pronounce
a sentence and instead places the defendant on probation. If the defendant
successfully completes a term of probation, the crime will not count
against the defendant on his/her criminal record.
Probation provides control, supervision
and rehabilitation for defendants. The defendant must report to a
probation officer regularly and must follow specific rules and conditions
of the Probation. Probation also gives the defendant a chance to make
restitution more quickly if any damages were suffered by the victim
of the crime.
If the criminal is incarcerated in
a state facility, the corrections authorities acquire jurisdiction
over the prisoner. However, the Judge can reconsider a sentence of
incarceration within 30 days (misdemeanors) or within 90 days (felonies).
After that period has elapsed, the corrections authorities can set
a date of release at their discretion within the minimum and maximum
limits set by the legislature. Victims are allowed input into the
parole hearings. Victims may present information to the board by written
statements or personal interview. Victims may also attend the scheduled
parole hearings in person and will be afforded the opportunity to
You have a right to know how the system
works. If at any time during the progress of your case you do not
understand what is happening or why, ask questions. You are always
welcome to contact the Victim Witness Program at 484-3020.
THREATS OR HARASSMENT
On occasions, witnesses are threatened
or harassed by the suspect or family members/friends of the suspect.
Tampering with or harassing a witness are crimes. If this happens
to you, contact the police and the County Attorney's Office immediately.
There are procedures we can take to protect you.
To be reasonably protected from the
accused throughout the criminal process.
To be free from threats
of discharge, from your employer because you are subpoenaed by the
prosecutor for Court.
To know when you must
appear in Court.
To register with the
County & be notified when the defendant is released from jail.
To receive restitution
from the defendant for economic losses resulting from the crime.
To consult with the
prosecutor in order to give your views of this crime and know of court
procedures regarding your case.
To make a written Victim
Impact Statement at the time of sentencing or verbally tell the Judge
how you were impacted by the crime.
To apply to the Iowa
Crime Victim Compensation Program which pays for medical expenses
and loss of income in cases of violent crimes.
If you are a victim
of a violent crime in which the defendant is sent to prison, to register
with the Department of Corrections and the Board of Parole so you
can be notified of parole hearings and the inmate's release.
To receive notice if
the defendant escapes custody while awaiting trial.
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