VICTIMS AND WITNESSES
As Victim-Witness Coordinator for Queen Anne's County, Michelle Barker (left) ensures that victims and witnesses are kept informed of the status of their cases and are treated in accordance with the laws of the State of Maryland. She is responsible for contacting all victims and witnesses prior to their court dates, ensuring that victims receive official notification regarding all court proceedings, and also routinely meets personally with victims of crime, including those suffering from domestic abuse.
The first Victim-Witness Coordinator for Queen Anne's County was hired by Mr. Kratovil upon taking office in 2003. An Assistant Victim-Witness Coordinator, Kelly Dixon (right), was added in 2007.
For more information regarding the Victim/Witness Program and other services available, pleases contact the Coordinator at 410-758-2264.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT'S HAPPENING
Victim/Witness Coordinator—Victims and witnesses are assigned a Victim/Witness Coordinator who will be available to answer questions and provide assistance.
Summons/Subpoena—A Deputy Sheriff delivers a witness summons to victims and witnesses notifying them of the scheduled court date. The law requires those served to appear on the date scheduled unless they have been excused by a representative of the State's Attorney's Office.
Defense Attorney—Victims and witnesses are not required to discuss their testimony or any aspects of the case with the defendant's attorney. If they choose to do so, they may also request that a representative from the State's Attorney's Office be present during the interview. Victims and witnesses should always be sure they know who they are talking to when they discuss their case.
Motion's Hearing—It may be necessary for victims and witnesses to appear at an informal hearing called a Motion's Hearing. This hearing is scheduled before the trial so that the evidence can be reviewed by the judge. Victims and witnesses should call their Victim/Witness Coordinator the day before the hearing to see if they will be needed.
Trial Day—The trial may not start as early as scheduled, so bring some reading material. Victims and witnesses will be questioned by the prosecutor, and then the defense attorney will have the opportunity to "cross examine" them. The defense attorney must protect his client's rights and this may involve closely scrutinizing the testimony. Victims and witnesses should not let the defense attorney's questions upset them. They should remain calm and answer the questions as best they can.
Continuances—Court hearings cannot always take place as scheduled and may be "continued" (postponed). Victims and witnesses should call their Victim/Witness Coordinator the day before the trial to make sure there have been no last-minute changes.
Victim Impact Statement—Everyone who has been a victim of a crime is asked to complete a Victim Impact Statement that is used by the court in determining sentences and provides a chance for victims to describe how the crime has affected their lives.
Guilty Pleas—In some cases the defendant will enter a plea of guilty to specific offenses. If a defendant pleads guilty, there will be no trial and the testimony of victims and witnesses will not be needed. Many defendants plead guilty before the trial, once they are convinced witnesses are willing to testify against them in court.
Sentencing—The victim's appearance at sentencing is not required. However, the Victim Impact Statement will be given to the sentencing judge. In Circuit Court cases, victims are notified by the victim/witness coordinator either by phone or mail regarding the sentence imposed.
Moving—Victims and witnesses need to keep the State's Attorney's Office informed of their current address and telephone number so that we can contact them about their case. If victims or witnesses move, they must call their Victim/Witness Coordinator.
For additional information and resources visit the following websites:
- Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center
- Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention
- Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence
- Governor's Council on Family Violence Prevention
- Queen Anne's County Social Services Department