Campbell County Attorney's Office
Crime Victim/Witness Program
The roles of victims and witnesses begin when a crime occurs. Once the crime is reported, law enforcement initiates an investigation. Victims and witnesses, who are often one in the same, may be called upon to assist in the investigation, and in the event charges are filed, to testify in court.
By bringing the offender to justice...
- The offender is held accountable for his or her actions;
- Others are discouraged from committing crimes;
- The offender is rehabilitated, if possible; and
- Public safety is insured.
The victim and/or witness plays a crucial role in the court process. There are several hearings that may occur when a felony offense has been committed by an offender. Below is a chart outlining the various hearings involving a felony offense.
Note: A Change of Plea may occur at any of the scheduled hearings listed above.
INITIAL APPEARANCE. The charges and the maximum penalties are explained to the defendant, along with the defendant’s constitutional rights. Issues of bond are addressed, including requirements for the defendant’s behavior throughout the court process.
PRELIMINARY HEARING. The Preliminary Hearing determines whether probable cause exists that a felony has been committed, and that the defendant probably committed it. If the Court determines probable cause does exist, the case is transferred to District Court. If the Court determines probable cause does not exist, the case is dismissed. Sometimes the defendant “waives” the Preliminary Hearing. This means the Preliminary Hearing is not held, and the case is forwarded to District Court for Arraignment. If a plea agreement is reached and it involves a plea to an amended misdemeanor offense, the Preliminary Hearing may become a Change Of Plea Hearing.
ARRAIGNMENT. At the Arraignment, felony defendants are given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the felony offenses charged.
MOTION HEARING & PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE. If the defendant has plead not guilty at the Arraignment, a Pre-Trial Conference is scheduled. The Pre-Trial Conference is a meeting between the prosecuting attorney, the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, and the judge in cases scheduled for Jury Trial to allow for coordination of exhibits, witnesses and legal issues prior to trial. A Motion Hearing is a hearing with the court, that typically addresses admissibility of evidence at trial. A Change Of Plea and Sentencing may occur at this stage.
TRIAL. A defendant may request a jury trial, or a bench trial (a trial to a judge only). Felony jury trials can last a few hours to a few days, depending upon the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case. Felony bench trials typically last a few hours.
SENTENCING. Once a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty following a Trial, the court schedules a Sentencing Hearing. The victim has the right to present a Victim Impact Statement and restitution information to the court for consideration at Sentencing. The Crime Victim/Witness Coordinator or the Adult Probation & Parole Office may contact the victim to obtain restitution information or follow-up on Victim Impact Statements.
CHANGE OF PLEA. A Change Of Plea can occur at any point in the process. It is important to provide a Victim Impact Statement and restitution information early to ensure that information is available for the court’s consideration.
It is very important that a victim/witness contact the Crime Victim/Witness Coordinators as soon as possible to address any concerns they have or any questions regarding this information.
RESTITUTION. Victim restitution is court ordered payment to victims for expenses resulting from criminal activity. The intent of restitution is to have the defendant pay for the damage he/she has caused or give equivalent value for any loss, damage, or injury a victim suffers. The court is required to consider restitution in all criminal cases in which the defendant is convicted and it is requested. The court may order restitution for a victim's actual property loss, medical and mental health expenses, loss of earnings or support, and any other related losses. Also, the court may consider restitution for long-term physical health care and any foreseeable future expenses.
As a general guideline, restitution can be ordered for "direct" costs resulting from a crime. Examples of "direct" costs include the following types of expenses:
- medical bills
- property repair and replacement costs
- counseling costs resulting from the crime
- loss of earnings and support
A victim cannot recover the following in criminal court, however, may be able to be recover them in a civil proceeding:
- punitive damages
- loss of consortium
- damages for physical and mental pain
If there is property damage or loss, please provide:
- Copies of all receipts or invoices, showing the value of the item OR:
- Copies of at least two estimates to repair the property, (if damaged), or replace it, (if stolen), OR:
- Your insurance deductible amount and a copy of the work invoice, or insurance company approved final estimate, if you filed a claim with your insurance company.
If there are medical expenses or counseling costs, please provide:
- Copies of all unpaid medical bills and out-of-pocket receipts;
- Your medical insurance deductible amount and name of insurance company, if you filed a claim with your medical insurance;
- Copies of all other bills outlining expenses;
- Please advise if the defendant’s insurance company is covering this claim. If so, the Crime Victim/Witness Coordinators will still need a copy of the adjuster’s estimate of repair costs to show the court the extent of damage;
- Estimated costs may be allowed in determining restitution amounts for long-term medical and mental health expenses.
If the defendant or a victim had insurance that covers the loss or expenses: Let the Crime Victim/Witness Coordinators know of the coverage and the amount of any deductible that has not been met.
If restitution is ordered, the defendant will make payments to the Clerk of District Court, who will then distribute the payments to the victim. If your address changes, please notify the District Court at (307) 682-3424. Payments may be made by the defendant in one payment or over the course of several months, depending upon the Court’s order.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS
A victim impact statement describes how the crime affected your daily life, whether it affected you emotionally, physically, financially, or all three. It can include restitution estimates and your opinion on what type of sentence the defendant should receive.
A statement can be as short as a paragraph or two, or as long as two or three pages. What is written in a Victim Impact Statement is up to you.
YOU MAY SUBMIT YOUR WRITTEN VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT TO THE CRIME VICTIM/WITNESS COORDINATOR IN THE COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE OR LET US KNOW IF YOU INTEND TO MAKE A STATEMENT IN COURT, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
You may present the statement verbally to the judge at sentencing rather than submitting a written statement. If you decide to make a statement during sentencing, make sure you’re organized. Writing down your thoughts prior to the hearing may be helpful, as court can be overwhelming.
You do not have to submit a Victim Impact Statement if you do not want to do so. But remember, the judge welcomes your input and seriously considers all Victim Impact Statements.
If you have questions regarding the Victim Impact Statement, restitution, or any other questions pertaining to the court process, please do not hesitate to contact the Crime Victim/Witness Coordinators at the County Attorney’s Office (307) 682-4310.
The Wyoming Victim
Bill of Rights
I. The right to be treated with compassion, respect and sensitivity within the criminal justice system.
II. The right to know the whereabouts of the defendant and the
current status of the case.
III. The right to receive restitution from offenders.
IV. The right to know all rights under this law, including information
about services and victim assistance at the local level.
V. The right to know about victim compensation.
VI. The right to reasonable protection and safety and the right to
know of legal recourse if threatened.
VII. The right to prompt return of property.
VIII. The right to preservation of employment while participating
in the criminal justice process.
IX. The right to be informed about the opportunity to make a victim
impact statement at sentencing and parole hearings.
X. The right to be present at trial.
CRIME VICTIM/WITNESS COORDINATORS
Crimes Against Property and Non-Family Violence Cases
Family Violence & Sexual Assault
Campbell County Attorney’s Office
Campbell County Courthouse, Suite B200
500 South Gillette Avenue
Gillette, WY 82716
(307) 682-4310 (Phone)
(307) 687-6441 (Fax)
Additional resources may be available through the Office of the Attorney General, Division of Victim Services. Their website is http://vssi.state.wy.us/