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Victim and Family Assistance

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The District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program is the liaison between you (the victim or family member of the victim) and the prosecutor handling the case. We provide direct services to victims of certain felony crimes, as outlined by state law, to assure that you are treated with fairness and respect, kept informed, and guided through the judicial process. To qualify for these statutory rights, you or your family members must be a victim of a homicide, felony crime of violence, sexual offense, certain vehicular related offenses, domestic violence, or attempts to commit any of these offenses. For a complete list of the crimes whose victims are covered under this statute, click here.

For Victims and Witnesses: “My Day in Court, What to Expect.” Thank you San Bernadino County, California DA’s office.

 Contact

Email:  DAMontgomery@22da.com attention Victim Assistance

Call:     St. Tammany – Assistance Coordinator at (985) 809-8362
Washington – Assistance Coordinator at  (985) 732-9594
Reparation Funding: (985) 276-1302

Probation & Parole

Victim’s Rights
The Process
FAQs
Resources

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VICTIMS’ RIGHTS

If you qualify for the program, you are entitled to the following rights under Louisiana’s Crime Victim Bill of Rights:

– To receive emergency social or medical services as soon as possible – To be notified of a defendant’s arrest, release on recognizance, posting of bond, release pending charges being filed, release due to rejection of charges by the District Attorney, escape, or re-apprehension

– To be interviewed in a private setting and to a secure area during criminal proceedings

– To requests for assistance by judicial and law enforcement agencies in informing employers that the need for  cooperation in the prosecution of the case may necessitate absence from work

– To reasonable notice and to be present and heard during all critical stages of pre-conviction and post-conviction proceedings, and the right to be notified of scheduling changes of criminal justice proceedings

– To consult with the prosecution prior to the trial and final disposition of the case – To refuse to be interviewed by the accused or a representative of the accused

– To review and comment upon the pre-sentence report prior to imposition of sentencing, and the right to be notified of the minimum and maximum sentence allowed by law

– To be present at all phases of the court proceedings, including the sentencing hearing

– To make a written or oral impact statement – To seek restitution – To a reasonably prompt conclusion to the case

For a victim or designated family member to be eligible to receive these rights, the victim or family member must complete a “Louisiana Victim Notice and Registration Form” and file it with the law enforcement agency investigating the crime or the District Attorney’s Office.  The Victim Assistance Program coordinator can assist you with this, if necessary.

THE PROCESS

ARREST
After a crime has been reported, the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation, such as a local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office, is your first point of contact. Once an arrest has been made in the case, the defendant (the person accused of the crime) must appear for an arraignment hearing, where the charges are read and the defendant enters a plea (usually “guilty” or “not guilty’). That process—from the arrest until the case is forwarded to the Victim Assistance Program—usually takes about four to six weeks, but don’t be alarmed if it takes a bit longer.

CONTACT WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY and VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR
When the District Attorney’s Office receives the case, a Victim Assistance Program coordinator sends a letter to you to advise that the case has been accepted for prosecution and assigned to an Assistant District Attorney. You will be given the Assistant District Attorney’s name, the court docket number, the first tentative trial date, the name of the Judge who will be hearing the case, and the program’s telephone number. If you are a minor, the program coordinator may be available to accompany you and your parent to the courtroom to help you become familiar with the court procedures and more at ease in the courtroom setting. The coordinator also will explain each step in the judicial process and what financial or community resources may be available.

CRIME VICTIM’S REPARATIONS FUND
Victims who are in need of court-ordered restitution/reparations will be informed of the Crime Victim’s Reparations Fund, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Office in St. Tammany and Washington parishes. The fund can reimburse certain medical bills that are associated with economic loss or injuries from a crime. Also, a trial judge may order restitution as a circumstance of probation. In either case, the program coordinator will assist you in obtaining information on this matter.

AVERAGE TIMELINES
Average misdemeanor cases take about six months to complete, but this varies widely. Felony cases on the average take about one year. Capital cases (death penalty cases), such as murder and aggravated rape of a juvenile, take one to three years on average to trial completion, but they sometimes can last even longer. Judges often grant continuances (delays) in cases for a variety of reasons. These continuances often cannot be anticipated, which can be very frustrating to many victims.

SENTENCING
Before a sentencing hearing, the Assistant District Attorney will notify the court if you wish to be heard at sentencing via a written or oral statement. This is known as a Victim Impact Statement, and it is a very powerful and important proceeding. If a defendant pleads guilty to the charge, the case is immediately resolved, which relieves the victim and witnesses from testifying in a court trial. If a judge sentences the defendant to probation, the defendant is required to participate in a court-supervised monthly monitoring program set up by the judge. The defendant is required to pay fines and monitoring fees and, as mentioned, may be required to pay restitution to the victim through the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ Office of Probation and Parole.

NOTIFICATION
Once the sentence has been issued, you should contact the Department of Corrections’ Crime Victims Services Bureau at 1-888-342-6110 for information about completing Victim/Witness notification request form. As an individual affected by the criminal acts of another person, you are a legitimate participant in the criminal justice system. Registration with the Department of Corrections’ Victims Services Bureau enables you to receive information regarding the status of the person who committed the crime, as well as notification of any scheduled hearing for parole or pardon.

VICTIM REGISTRATION
The form also may be downloaded at www.doc.louisiana.gov . This form should not be confused with registration for the Louisiana Automated Victim Notification System (LAVNS), a free on-line service that allows anyone to search for information regarding an offender’s current custody and case status in a parish facility. LAVNS is a useful service that also can provide automated notification when an offender is released, transferred, or escapes from a parish facility or has a change in case status. To register, call 866.528.6748 or visit www.LAVNS.org. Registering locally with LAVNS is NOT the same as registering with the state’s Crime Victims Services Bureau. Currently, one must register with the Department of Corrections’ Crime Victims Services Bureau in order to receive notice of a state inmate’s projected release dates, actual release, and other key events in an offender’s movement through the justice system.

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VICTIM FAQs

Why hasn’t the Victim Assistance Program contacted me?

Are the services offered through this program available to ALL victims?

How do I find out when the person who committed a crime against me will be released from prison?

Can I give my opinion before the District Attorney’s Office offers a plea deal to the person who committed a crime against me?

Can I be considered a victim of domestic violence if I’m not married to the person who is hurting me?

Will I have to hire an attorney?

What should I do if I was raped?

Is there any kind of emergency assistance available to me to help with the expenses I have incurred as a result of the crime committed against me?

What will happen to me during trial?

What should I expect to happen during the trial?

The person who committed a crime against me was ordered to pay restitution as a condition of probation. Will I get it in a lump sum or monthly payments, and what will happen if he doesn’t pay?

RESOURCES
Crime Victims Services Bureau 888-342-6110 www.doc.louisiana.gov
Louisiana Automated Victim Notification System (LAVNS) 866.528.6748www.LAVNS.org
It Happened To Alexa Foundation (rape victims) (716) 754-9105 877-77-ALEXA (Ext. 25392) www.ithappenedtoalexa.org
Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault 888-995-7273 (hotline) 985-345-5995 www.lafasa.org
Metropolitan Center for Women and Children 888-411-1333 (hotline) 504-837-5400 www.mcwcgno.org
Safe Harbor (domestic violence victims) 985-626-5740 888-411-1333 (hotline) www.safeharbornorthshore.org
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) 877.MAD.HELP www.madd.org
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services 800-891-0076 985-893-0076 www.slls.org

This agency does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age in the delivery of services and employment practices. If participants or beneficiaries want to file a complaint alleging discrimination, please contact the District Attorney’s Office by email DAMontgomery@22da.com.