Overview of services provided to crime victims:
Information about the criminal justice system
Case information and notifications
Accompaniment to court proceedings upon request
Availability of secure Victim/Witness Waiting Rooms
Assistance with completing written and oral Victim Impact Statements
Assistance with harassment/intimidation
Courtroom orientation for children who need to testify in court
Assistance with registration for victim notification services
Referrals to supportive services outside of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Victim/Witness Services Unit contact information
If you have a question, concern, or grievance, please call the telephone number that corresponds with your case. These numbers can be found on the back of the subpoena that you received in the mail. If you are unsure who to contact, please call the Victim/Witness Services Unit main number at 314-615-4872.
Assistance accessing services that help address financial losses associated with crime, including restitution and victims’ compensation
How do I get a victim/witness coordinator to assist me?
For most types of crimes, a victim advocate will contact you by telephone before any court hearing takes place. You can always contact the Victim Service Division at 314-615-4872, if you have questions regarding the criminal justice system whether your case has been assigned an advocate or not.
As a victim in a criminal case, you have the right to be informed of the status of your case. For case information, please contact the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or Victim Advocate assigned to your case.
If you are scheduled to appear in court as a victim or witness on a case and have questions or concerns about the court process, the Victim Service Division of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office may be able to provide a Victim Advocate to accompany you to court. As a victim of crime, you may also bring a support person of your choosing with you to court. If you are interested in having someone accompany you to court or have any questions or concerns about your case, please contact the Victim Advocate assigned to your case.
If you have transportation issues, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office may be able to assist by providing cab service to court for your testimony. Please speak with the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or Victim Advocate assigned to your case.
It is the policy of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to actively discourage the intimidation of victims and witnesses through the use of appropriately restrictive bail conditions, criminal contempt, and additional criminal charges and sanctions. If at any time you or a family member feels threatened while in court, immediately notify the courtroom bailiff, the assistant prosecuting attorney, or victim advocate assigned to your case. There is also courthouse security located at each of the entrances to the buildings.
To report intimidation, please contact the St. Louis County Police Department at 314-321-1234
In case of immediate danger, call 911.
It is also recommended that, in addition to calling the police, those experiencing intimidation related to a criminal case contact the assigned Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or Victim Advocate If you are unsure who to contact, please call the Victim Service Division at 314-615-4872.
What if I do not speak English?
If you do not speak English, please tell the 911 operators, police, and victim advocate or APA what language you speak. They will find interpreters to assist you.
Si usted no habla inglés, dígaselo a la operadora del 911, a la policía, al coordinador de victimas/testigos o al asistente del fiscal e indíquele qué lenguaje necesita. Ellos le buscarán un intérprete para que le asista.
Nếu các bạn không nói được tiếng Mỹ, khi gọi số 911 hãy nói với tổng đài, Cảnh Sát, nhân viên giúp đỡ nạn nhân/nhân chứng hoặc công tố viên "Vietnamese, Vietnamese, Vietnamese..." Họ sẽ tìm nguời thông dịch tiếng Việt cho bạn.
The voice of the victim is central to the pursuit justice.
We want to make sure you know what’s happening with your case, now and in the future.
What are my responsibilities as a victim or witness?
As a victim or witness in a case, you are responsible for making sure that the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has up-to-date contact information for you. You are also responsible for going to court every time you are subpoenaed to do so and answering truthfully any questions that you are asked.
What if I move or change my phone number?
If you move or change your phone number, you should contact the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at 314-615-2600 or Victim Service Division at 314-615-4872 so that your contact information can be updated.
Release Notification Offender Release, Transfer, or Escape:
Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS) is a fully automated information notification system that immediately notifies registered users upon a change in an offender’s incarceration, court status or the status of a protection order. MOVANS will notify you if an offender is in custody in a county jail or the Missouri Department of Corrections and will provide you with other important custody information. This system also provides important information regarding upcoming court events and any change involving those hearings. MOVANS also provides information regarding the status of a protection order. Petitioners can be notified immediately upon service of a protection order and any change to the order. Register at www.vinelink.com, or call, 866-5-MOVANS (866-566-8267).
Parole Hearing Notification:
In certain circumstances, a convicted offender who is serving time in a correctional facility may be eligible for parole. When an offender is scheduled for a parole hearing to determine whether or not parole will be granted, the victim(s) on the case have the right to be notified of the parole hearing and to provide in-person, video, oral, or written input into parole decisions. In order to be notified of such events and provide input into parole decisions, the victim must register with the Missouri Department of Corrections Victim Unit, 573-526-6516, www.doc.mo.gov.
Court can be confusing.
Knowing what to expect can help minimize the stress that you may experience.
What should I do to prepare for court?
• If you need assistance with transportation or language interpretation, please notify the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney assigned to your case or the Victim Advocate at least two business days before your scheduled court appearance.
• You may bring someone to court with you for support.
• Dress appropriately. Court is a serious occasion, and dress should reflect that. Wearing hats or even chewing gum is generally not acceptable in court. You may also want to bring a sweater or dress warmly as the temperature in many courtrooms is on the cool side.
• Make sure that you eat something before appearing in court, as you may need to spend several hours in the courtroom or waiting room.
• Bring your subpoena with you to court.
• Bring any photographs or documents that you think may be helpful in your case, including receipts for stolen or damaged property and estimates or bills for repaired property.
Victim/Witness Waiting Rooms:
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has Victim/Witness waiting rooms located on the 3rd and 4th floor of the Courts Building. These waiting rooms provide private areas for victims, witnesses, and their support people to wait prior to their testimony or during jury deliberation. If you would like to use one of the waiting rooms during the trial, please speak to the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or Victim Advocate assigned to your case.
What can I expect in the courtroom?
The judge, defendant(s), the defendant’s attorney(s), all victims and witnesses, the APA, a victim advocate, police officers, sheriffs, and other court staff involved in the case may be present in the courtroom. When you are called to testify (tell the court what happened during the crime) you will have to swear (or “affirm”) that you will tell the truth. The APA will ask you what you know about the case. When the APA has finished asking you questions, the defendant’s attorney will ask you questions. The judge will only want to hear the facts that relate to this particular case. Witnesses testify one at a time and may be asked to wait outside the courtroom while any other witnesses testify. This can be very frustrating for victims/survivors and witnesses, but it is a common practice and done to ensure that the witnesses’ testimonies do not influence each other. Once everyone testifies, all witnesses may re-enter the courtroom.
How many times will I need to go to court?
As a victim or witness in a crime, your statement about what happened during the crime is very important to make sure the correct offender is caught and given a punishment that fits his/her crime. The number of times you go to court depends on a lot of things, including the type of crime that was committed and whether or not everyone who is supposed to appear in court does so. Please remember that you must appear in court every time you are asked to do so.
How long will I need to be in court?
Victims and witnesses are often in court for several hours at a time. How long you need to spend in court depends on a lot of things. The APA working on your case and the victim advocate working with you will do everything they can to explain what is happening with your case, what you need to do, and when you may leave. The court process can be very long. Even if you were asked to arrive to court first thing in the morning, it is possible that you will need to wait for a large part of the day for your turn to be called to testify. Bring any medicines you will need through the course of the day, and provide for appropriate child care.
Will I be allowed to wait inside the courtroom?
Criminal courtrooms are open to the public. However, if more than one victim or witness is required to testify in your case, each may be asked to leave the courtroom while the others testify.
I need directions to the courthouse.
Printable directions and parking information are available HERE.
Victim Impact Statement (VIS):
If a defendant in a criminal case is found guilty, he/she will be scheduled for a sentencing hearing. During this phase of the court proceedings, the victim or the victim's family may have the opportunity to address the judge and provide information about the physical, emotional, psychological, and financial effects that the crime has had on the victim's life. The Victim Impact Statement is not intended to be a recounting of the facts of the case, but rather a statement about the impact of the crime. This statement is taken into account by the judge when determining the defendant's sentence. The Victim Advocate assigned to your case can assist you in preparing a Victim Impact Statement.
A Victim Impact Statement may be submitted orally or in writing. Please note that the submission of a Victim Impact Statement is voluntary.
If you would like assistance or have questions regarding submitting a Victim Impact Statement, please contact the Victim Advocate assigned to your case.
Lawyer-talk doesn’t have to be difficult.
Let’s simplify some legal language you’ll hear related to a case.
What is a subpoena?
If you are a victim of or a witness to a crime you will receive a subpoena to appear in a St. Louis County courtroom. A subpoena is a court order that directs you to appear in court as a witness. You may not ignore any court order, including a subpoena. You must appear at the time and place stated on the subpoena. You may receive your subpoena by mail or in person, and the subpoena may be updated by telephone. Please save your subpoena and bring it to court with you because it contains important information about your case.
Appearing in court may be difficult for some people, especially during times of stress. The Victim Service Division is available to assist you and help you understand what to expect when you go to court so that you are prepared.
Do I need an attorney?
It is not necessary for you to have an attorney. The Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County represents your interests.
What is a preliminary hearing?
A preliminary hearing is a probable cause hearing scheduled sometime after the defendant's arrest. At this hearing, the APA must show that there is enough evidence to move forward with prosecuting the defendant. If the case is ‘bound over’ it will move on to the circuit level of the court system where it will be resolved either through a trial or a plea of guilty.
What is a trial?
At the trial, the APA presents all the facts of the case to a judge or a jury. This will include testimony (statements under oath about what happened) from the victim, witnesses, and the police officers involved in the case. At this time, the judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime based on the testimony heard at the trial.
If the crime involved is a misdemeanor, the trial takes place in Associate Circuit Court before a judge or a jury. No preliminary hearing takes place.
What is a plea?
A plea is the defendant’s statement about whether or not he/she admits to committing the crime that he/she is being accused of committing. The plea is usually “guilty” (the defendant admits to committing the crime) or “not guilty” (the defendant does not admit to committing the crime). It is possible that a defendant in a case will change his/her plea as the case moves forward. You will be notified if this happens.
Why did the ADA talk about “making an offer” or “negotiating a plea” with the defendant’s attorney?
In cases that are bound over for court’ (scheduled to go to trial), it is likely that the APA assigned to the case will try to “negotiate a plea.” This means that if the defendant admits that he/she committed the crime before the trial happens, a punishment will be decided without the need to go to trial. You will have the chance to tell the APA or victim advocate what you would like to see happen. The APA in your case will consider the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and your input when deciding what offer to make.
If the attorneys and defendant agree to a plea, the defendant is guaranteed to receive a conviction and a sentence. If a case goes to trial and a plea is not negotiated, it is possible that no conviction or sentence will be given to the defendant – what happens will depend on the decision of the judge or jury. Negotiated pleas can help a case end faster because no trial will be needed. If the defendant pleads guilty to the charges, there will be no trial and you will not have to testify in court. As a victim, you have the right to be present if the defendant pleads guilty and is sentenced. You also have the right not to attend the plea/sentencing. The choice is yours.
Getting life back on track:
There may be financial support available in your situation.
During the course of a criminal investigation and trial, a victim's personal belongings may be held by the police or the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to be tested or used as evidence. Once the case is over, the victim has a right to have these items returned. If you had personal property held during the prosecution of a criminal case and need assistance in having these items returned, please contact police department who investigated the crime, the assistant prosecuting attorney who handled your case, or the victim advocate.
As a victim of crime, you may be entitled to restitution. Restitution is financial payment paid by a defendant found guilty of a crime to compensate for damages and expenses incurred by the victim as a direct result of the crime. Victims may request restitution for damaged or stolen property, medical expenses, or other losses incurred. Restitution can only be ordered if the defendant is found guilty and, depending on the case, may be paid over an extended period of time or all at once. Restitution must be ordered at the time of sentencing, and can be ordered even if the offender is sentenced to serve time in a correctional facility. Therefore, it is important that you submit your request as soon as possible. Please note, restitution does not cover pain and suffering. If ordered, restitution will be in the form of a money order or cashier’s check made payable to the victim. The payment will be sent to the Victim Service Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for processing and then we will forward to the appropriate victim. The necessary forms to list any request for restitution can be found in the packet of information mailed to victims at the time the case is issued, but the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney assigned to your case will also check with the victim prior to sentencing to make sure we have the most current information regarding restitution.
On Aug. 28, 2018, sweeping changes to Missouri’s Crime Victims’ Compensation went into effect. The reforms, which were part of House Bill 1355, make it simpler to apply for compensation, expand the number of people who are eligible, provide victims more time to report their crime, eliminate limits on some categories of payments and the three-year limit on compensation payments, and more.
NOTE: The following is only a summary of the Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) Program. Other requirements not listed below may factor into determining compensation. For a more in-depth description of the Program refer to the CVC Program Guidelines. For actual provisions, please refer to the Missouri statutes governing the Program, Chapter 595, RSMo, as amended and the Code of State Regulations 8 CSR 50-6.010.
It is a crime to knowingly provide false information on the application in order to receive any benefits from the Program.
The Crime Victims' Compensation Program financially assists people who have sustained physical, emotional, or mental harm or trauma resulting from the crime upon which the claim is based by paying for reasonable medical and counseling expenses as well as lost wages if the victim was gainfully employed on the crime date. If the victim was killed as a direct result of the crime, the Program can also help the victim’s family members by assisting with the cost of funeral and burial expenses. Counseling expenses can also be considered for family members residing with the victim at the time of the crime or who witnessed the crime. Dependent family members can also receive loss of support if the victim was gainfully employed on the crime date. As a payor of last resort, the Program considers out-of-pocket expenses not covered by collateral sources such as:
· Insurance (health, auto, disability)
· Workers’ Compensation
· Public funds such as Medicaid or Medicare
· Paid sick or annual leave
· Civil suits (personal injury or wrongful death suits)
A maximum benefit of $25,000 may be awarded on eligible claims and may not exceed:
· $200 per week for lost wages for crimes occurring prior to Aug. 28, 2015
· $400 per week for lost wages for crimes occurring on or after Aug. 28, 2015
· $5,000 for funeral expenses
Losses not covered by the Program include, but are not limited to: stolen or damaged property, pain and suffering, crime scene clean-up, relocation, house payments, rent, utilities, food and/or clothing costs, tuition reimbursement, monetary losses from investment schemes or identity theft.
Below are some, but not all, of the requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for reimbursement:
· The victim/claimant shall file the application not later than two (2) years after the occurrence of the crime or the discovery of the crime upon which it is based.
· The victim/claimant must have reported the crime to proper authorities. In lieu of other records the claimant may provide a sworn statement by the applicant under paragraph (c) of subdivision (2) if section 589.663 that the applicant has good reason to believe that he or she is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking, and fears further violent acts from his or her assailant.
· The victim must cooperate with law enforcement if an alleged offender is identified.
· The application must be signed.
Claim eligibility is not guaranteed and cannot be determined until the Program staff has completed a thorough investigation of the crime and expenses for which compensation is being sought. The following documents are required for possible compensation (additional documentation may be requested as the claim is processed):
· Police report
· Crime-related medical, counseling or funeral bills
· Disability statement and employment verification (for lost wages; loss of support)
· Death Certificate
· Life insurance settlement documents (beneficiary information, assignment of benefits in funeral cases)
· Restitution information (if ordered by the court)
· Auto insurance settlement documents (from both the victim/claimant and the alleged offender)
· Civil suit settlement documents (if victim/claimant is suing alleged offender or a third party)
For additional information regarding Missouri Crime Victim Compensation program, you can call their unit toll free, (800) 347-6881, or visit their website: www.dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/cvc. This program is managed through the Department of Public Safety in Jefferson City, MO, but the Victim Service Division can provide any victim with their application. Applications are also available online at the site listed above.
Intimidation is a crime.
What to do if you’re contacted by the defendant, their lawyer, or others:
It is the policy of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to actively discourage the intimidation of victims and witnesses through the use of appropriately restrictive bail conditions, criminal contempt, and additional criminal charges and sanctions. If at any time you or a family member feels threatened while in court, immediately notify the courtroom bailiff, the assistant prosecuting attorney, or victim advocate assigned to your case. There is also courthouse security located at each of the entrances to the buildings. It is also recommended that, in addition to calling the police, those experiencing intimidation related to a criminal case contact the assigned Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or Victim Advocate If you are unsure who to contact, please call the Victim Service Division at 314-615-4872.
To report intimidation, please contact the St. Louis County Police Department at 314-321-1234
In case of immediate danger, call 911.
What if the defendant’s attorney contacts me?
Before your appearance in court, you may be contacted by the defendant’s attorney or an investigator working for the defendant. These people represent the defendant, not you. You can choose not to speak to this person – it is your decision. We suggest that you always know the identity of the person to whom you are speaking; ask for their name and phone number. You have the right to tell the caller that you do not wish to speak to them without the prosecuting attorney being present.
What if the defendant or his/her family contacts me?
It is a crime to harass, threaten, or intimidate a victim or witness in a case. It is also a crime for the defendant or anyone acting for the defendant to offer you money or any other benefit to change the statement you make in court or to “drop charges.” If any of these things occur, additional charges may be brought against the defendant.
*If the defendant, his/her family or friends, or anyone else contacts, harasses, threatens, or intimidates you, call the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney assigned to your case at 314-615-2600, or the Victim Service Division at 314-615-4872. You can also contact the police department where you reside. In an emergency, call 911.
Is information about my case confidential?
It is the policy of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to maintain your privacy within certain limits. However, it is necessary to share information with Prosecuting Attorney staff and other law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in order to move your case forward. Your phone number, e-mail address, and other personal information will not be provided to the defendant or his/her attorney. For further information contact the Victim Service Division