Lyon County, Iowa
Victim-Witness Assistance Program
The Victim Witness Assistance Program of the Lyon County Attorney's Office exists to help you understand your part in the criminal justice system and to help the system take your needs into consideration whenever possible. The Victim Witness Coordinator can:
•Keep you informed of the progress of your case
•Accompany you if you have to go to court
•Help you receive restitution from the defendant
•Help you get back property that has been held as evidence
•Inform you of your rights as a victim
If you have a case pending, please keep in touch with us. We need to have your current address and phone number.
According to Iowa law, as a victim of crime you have the right:
• To know when you must appear in court
• To register with the Lyon County Sheriff to be notified when the defendant is released from jail
• To receive restitution from the defendant for economic losses resulting from the crime
• To make a written or oral Victim Impact Statement at the time of sentencing
• To apply to the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program, which pays for medical expenses and lost income in cases of violent crime
• If you are a victim of 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.
A brochure is available from the County Attorney's Office explaining these rights in more detail.
Your Feelings As A Victim Of Crime
You may experience some of these feelings after you have been victimized:
• A sense of violation
• Anger and frustration
• Increased fear
• A feeling of loss of control over your life
• A loss of trust in other people
All of these feelings are natural responses to the trauma of victimization. Many victims share these responses. You can speed your recovery by keeping in touch with your feelings and talking about them. For information on counseling and other local victim services or preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risk of being victimized again, or just for a listening ear, call the Victim Witness Assistance Program.
The County Attorney may set up a time to meet with you before the trial. This is your opportunity to discuss the case with the prosecutor and find out what will be expected of you as a witness.
It is possible that an attorney, an investigator, or a paralegal working for the defendant may contact you. It is all right to ask for identification before you speak to anyone. You are not under obligation to talk with anyone connected with the case unless you are subpoenaed. The decision to talk without a subpoena is yours to make. You may request that the prosecutor working on the case be present during any meeting or conversation with the defense. Simply call our office and speak with the attorney or with the Victim-Witness Coordinator to make the arrangements. If the defense wants your statement, they are permitted to subpoena you for a deposition (formal sworn statement) at which time the prosecutor will be present.
Testifying In Court
You must appear in court and truthfully testify under oath if you are subpoenaed. If you receive a subpoena, call the Victim-Witness Coordinator right away. We will be able to tell you if there have been any last minute changes in the status of your case, and we may be able to tell you approximately when your testimony will be needed in order to minimize the time you spend waiting at the courthouse.
While you are waiting to testify, you will be asked to sit in another part of the courthouse. You will not be able to sit in the courtroom during the testimony of other witnesses. Our Victim-Witness Coordinator will be available at the courthouse to answer your questions and assist you if you need anything.
Here are some hints that will help you with your court appearance:
• Always tell the truth.
• If you don't know the answer to a question, or you can't remember, just say so.
• Speak loudly enough for everyone to hear you.
• Dress neatly.
• Wait until a question is finished to answer and stop speaking if an objection is made.
• Don't guess. If you must make an estimate about something, make it clear that you are estimating.
• Try to remain calm while answering questions.
• Waiting is sometimes unavoidable. Bring something to read while you are waiting, or bring a friend to wait with you.
• Do not discuss your testimony with other witnesses.
Fees and Travel Arrangements
Bring your subpoena with you so that you may claim your witness fees and mileage. The Victim Witness Coordinator or another staff from the County Attorney’s Office will have you complete a Witness Claim for reimbursement. Witnesses are entitled to $10 for a full day of testimony or $5 for a half-day and to receive mileage reimbursement. If you must come from out-of-town call the Victim-Witness Coordinator to find out about travel arrangements. If you live in town but are having trouble finding a ride to court, we can help you as well.
When you receive your subpoena, notify your employer to find out company policy regarding your appearance in court. If necessary, the Victim-Witness Coordinator can explain the need for your appearance to your employer. Although your employer is not required to pay your for time spent in court, many do. It is against the law for your employer to penalize you because you have to come to court.
Threats or Harassment
On rare occasions, witnesses are threatened or harassed. Tampering with witnesses and harassment may be crimes. If this happens to you contact the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the County Attorney's Office immediately.
After The Trial
Sentencing usually takes place two to six weeks after a plea or verdict of guilty. Sometimes a pre-sentence investigation is conducted by the Department of Correctional Services in order to gather background information on the defendant and the crime. The Victim Witness Coordinator will have you complete a Victim Impact Statement which will be part of this report to the Court.
At the sentencing, the defendant should be ordered to pay restitution to you for monetary losses resulting from the crime. You will also get a chance to tell the judge what practical and emotional impact this crime has had on you through a Victim Impact Statement, which can be written, given orally, or both.
Except in certain violent crimes which require a prison term, judges have a variety of sentencing options at their disposal for each level of crime.
Sometime prior to the sentencing you should receive restitution forms and a Victim Impact Statement in the mail from the Victim Witness Assistance Program. If, for some reason, you do not receive the forms, please call. By filling out and returning the forms, you will help the prosecutor to determine how much restitution the defendant should be required to pay you. Restitution can be ordered for expenses such as medical bills, lost income, property damage, insurance deductibles, and lock changes. If you have medical bills or lost income due to injury you may be eligible for an award from the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program. The defendant can also be ordered to repay this fund as restitution.
When the defendant is ordered to pay restitution and is on probation or sent to prison, a Plan of Payment is set up by the probation officer or prison counselor within a month or two of sentencing. Restitution payments are made by the defendant through the Clerk of Court, who will forward them to the victims of the crime. If the defendant in your case is not on probation, in jail, or in prison and you do not receive a restitution payment within a reasonable amount of time, call the Lyon County Attorney's Office for assistance with collection.
If you are a victim of violent crime in which the defendant is sent to prison, you have the right 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.
Victim Witness Notification
The Victim Witness Assistance Program of the Office of the Lyon County Attorney exists to help you understand your part in the criminal justice system and to help the system take your needs into consideration whenever possible. The Victim Witness Coordinator and other members of the Lyon County Attorney staff can: keep you informed of the progress of your case, accompany you if you have to go to court, help you receive restitution from the defendant, help you get back property that has been held in evidence, and inform you of your rights as a victim.