LAW OFFICES OF XYZ
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Frequently Asked Questions
Office of the District Attorney
Toombs Judicial Circuit
Questions about the Subpoena
For the Victim
For the Witness
Dropping Charges
Restraining Orders
Compensation for related losses
After Trial / Guilty Plea
Reporting a Crime
How to Volunteer

Questions about the Subpoena

Q: If I get a subpoena, do I have to go to court?          
A: Yes. A subpoena is an order of the court.  You must go to court
unless the court or the party who caused the subpoena to be issued
excuses you.  If you fail to appear, the judge can issue a warrant for
your arrest.  Please bring your subpoena with you when you come to
court. In some cases, the party who caused the subpoena to be
issued can put you “on call” so you can go to work or school on the
day you are subpoenaed.  You will be called at a pre-arranged
telephone number an hour or so before you are needed in court. If
you are placed “on call,” you must be available to testify in court
within thirty minutes to an hour. To request “on call” status, call the
telephone number on your subpoena immediately.

Q: What do I do if I am unable to appear on the date stated in the
subpoena?         
A: A subpoena is a court order that must be obeyed. If you have a
date conflict, you should contact the District Attorney handling the
case before the appearance date and discuss your conflict. If you do
not appear, without receiving permission from the District Attorney, a
warrant can be issued for your arrest.

Q: What does it mean to be placed "on-call" and could that apply to
me?         
A: If you have a conflict with the date on the subpoena, contact the
district attorney handling the case before the appearance date and
discuss your conflict.  In some cases, the district attorney handling the
case can put you “on call” so you can go to work or school on the day
you are subpoenaed.  You will be called at a pre-arranged telephone
number an hour or so before you are needed in court.  




For the Victim

Q: If I am a victim of a violent crime, what services are available to
me?          
A: The Victim/Witness Assistance Program offers a variety of services
to victims of crime.  Please contact the Victim Assistance Program at
(706) 595-7175 for more information.

Q: If I am a victim, do I need to hire an attorney to represent me in
court?         
A: You will not need to hire an attorney unless you are seeking to sue
the defendant civilly or are seeking damages or other orders outside
the jurisdiction of the criminal courts.  The District Attorney’s Office
prosecutes crimes on behalf of the State of Georgia and the public at
large.

Q: I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the
defendant and the defendant’s next court date?          
A: The DA’s Office can provide you with the name of the adult
defendant and the next court date if we have received the police
reports and filed charges against the defendant.  To obtain this
information, call the District Attorney's Office.  The DA’s office is
legally unable to disclose information on most juvenile defendants.  

Q: Who will be with me in court when I testify?         
A: You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can
probably sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also
witnesses.  Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside
the courtroom for their turn.  A Victim/Witness Advocate may also be
with you, if you request.

Q: I am supposed to come to court to testify but am afraid of the
defendant. Will I be able to testify by way of a one way mirror or a
videotaped interview?         
A: You do need to be in court to be questioned by both the
prosecutor and the defense attorney. Please be assured that you will
be accompanied at all times by a Victim Witness Advocate. The
Advocate will assist you throughout the court process up to and
including sentencing, and then follow up with counseling and other
support services by way of referrals. Also, the defendant is prohibited
from having any direct contact with you. There will also be security in
court.

Q: Is the defendant going to be present when I testify?         
A: Yes.  The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the
witnesses say about him or her.  The lawyer for the defendant is
called the defense attorney and is allowed to ask you questions that
are related to the case.

Q: Can the courtroom be closed to the public if a victim requests
it?         
A: In general, the law requires that courtrooms remain open to the
public.  In certain situations, however, the courtroom can be closed at
the prosecutor’s request.  This request is reserved for cases involving
child witnesses, dependent adult witnesses with a substantial
cognitive impairment, and witnesses whose life would be subject to a
substantial risk in appearing before the general public, and where no
alternative security measures would be adequate to minimize the
perceived threat.

Q: How do I get a copy of the police report?         
A: In general, the District Attorney’s Office will not release police
reports to the public.  Reports may be obtained through the
appropriate law enforcement agency.

Q: If a defendant pleads guilty, do I have any input in the case?         
A: Victims of crime can prepare a Victim Impact Statement.  This
statement will be considered by the district attorney and the judge
when determining the appropriate penalty.  Victims may also give a
verbal statement in open court before the judge gives the sentence.



For the Witness

Q: Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime occur.         
A: Witnesses are not limited to "eyewitnesses". You may have seen
the crime happen or may know something about it. You may also
know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something
that contradicts another witness’ testimony. If you wonder why you are
testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it.

Q: I have been subpoenaed by the DA to appear as a witness in a
criminal case. Will I be paid witness fees?         
A: No.    

Q: How long will I be at court as a witness?         
A: Your courtroom time, while actually testifying, may not take long; it
depends upon many factors.  The majority of your time at court will be
spent waiting to testify.  You and your family and friends are
encouraged to bring a book or magazine to read while you wait.

Q: I am a witness on a case. Do I need to come to court each
day?         
A: No. If you call the number listed on the subpoena to be placed "on-
call" you will not have to come to court until needed.

Q: What will happen if a witness refuses to testify?         
A: Unless a witness can exercise a certain privilege, the witness will be
compelled by the court to testify. If a witness refuses the court’s order
to testify, the court can impose sanctions on the witness including
fines and/or time in custody.

Q: Can a person write a statement and forward it to the District
Attorney’s Office regarding a crime they witnessed?  
A: No. Crimes should be reported to the police department or law
enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county
where the crime occurred.

Q: Can a witness’s testimony be videotaped instead of physically
appearing in court?         
A: Generally, no.  The defendant in a criminal case has a
constitutional right to “confront” and “cross-examine” witnesses
testifying against him or her in person.  In rare circumstances, child
witnesses may be able to testify via closed-circuit television.  



Dropping Charges

Q: I am a victim and want to drop the charges, can I?                          
A: Most people incorrectly believe a victim of crime has the power to
“press charges” and “drop the charges” against a defendant. All
crimes are offenses collectively against the People of the State of
Georgia. The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes crimes on behalf of
the State of Georgia and not the victim who may have been harmed
by the defendant’s crime. The decision to drop charges in any
criminal prosecution can only be made by a prosecutor. The victim’s
wishes will be considered, but the final determination of whether or
not the charges will be filed or dismissed rests with the District
Attorney’s Office. If you would like to discuss your case, you should
speak with the District Attorney assigned to your case or ask the
District Attorney's Office to refer you to a Victim/Witness Advocate.

                                                                                       


Restraining Order

Q: I want a restraining order to keep my [husband/wife,
boyfriend/girlfriend, or other person] away from me. Will the DA’s
Office do this for me?         
A: It depends. If there are no pending criminal charges, you will need
to consult a private attorney.  Also, the Victim/Witness Assistance
Program may be able to assist you in obtaining a domestic violence
restraining order. Contact the Victim Assistance Program at (706) 595-
7175.  If criminal charges are pending against your husband/wife,
etc., the District Attorney’s Office generally requests a criminal
protective order pending resolution of the case. Oftentimes, the
District Attorney’s Office will request a criminal protective order as
part of a defendant’s sentencing. Finally, if, you are being abused
you should contact your local police agency to file a report. The
police agency may also assist you in obtaining an emergency
protective order.



Compensation for Related Losses

Q: Will the DA’s Office help me collect for property damage and for
pain and suffering?          
A: The District Attorney’s Office cannot directly compensate you for
any loss you may have suffered.  Please contact the Victim
Assistance Program, specifically the Restitution Specialist at (706)
595-7175 for more information.  The Victim Assistance Program will
work with the District Attorney assigned to your case to request
restitution for property damage or replacement at either a plea of
guilty or conviction through trial.  If a defendant is found not guilty, no
restitution will be ordered.  With regard to collecting for pain and
suffering and other losses, the District Attorney's Office is unable to
assist you.  You may wish to contact a private attorney.

Q: I was the victim of a violent crime and need assistance with paying
medical, funeral, mental health, income or other related losses.
Where can I get this assistance?         
A: Contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Restitution
Specialist, at (706) 595-7175. The Specialist may be able to help you
with reimbursement through the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation
Program.  This program has strict guidelines and will only compensate
crime victims for medical, funeral, mental health counseling, economic
support (lost wages) and/or crime scene clean up.  The crime must
have been reported within 72 hours of occurrence to be eligible.  
Please contact the Victim Assistance Program (706) 595-7175 for
more information.  




After Trial/ Guilty Plea

Q: What is the maximum sentence the defendant can receive in my
case?         
A: In most cases, the judge has wide discretion to impose a fair
sentence on the defendant, up to the maximum available given the
charges for which the defendant has been convicted.  The maximum
sentence available will depend on the type and number of charges or
counts filed by the District Attorney.  Most misdemeanor charges
carry a maximum jail sentence of either six months or one year,
and/or a fine of $1,000.  Most felony charges carry a maximum prison
sentence of three years, though serious or violent felonies have a
much longer maximum sentence.

Q: In court, the judge ordered the defendant to pay restitution to me
and I haven’t received anything. Who can help me?          
A: If the defendant was placed on probation for felony charges, you
should call the Georgia State Probation Department, which has two
offices located in the Toombs Judicial Circuit:  contact (706) 595-7404
for the Thomson office; or contact (706) 678-2373 for the Washington
office. If the defendant was placed on probation for misdemeanor
charges, you should call CSRA Probation Services, Inc., which also
has a location in Thomson (706-597-8337) and Washington (706-678-
5803).  You will need to provide the defendant’s name and the
criminal case number.

Q: How can I get my property returned in a criminal case?         
A: If you are a victim of a crime, contact the police department that
handled the case once the case is resolved.  If the police department
receives clearance from the District Attorney’s Office to return your
property, it will be returned to you.  In certain cases where an appeal
is filed by the defendant, property cannot be released until at least 60
days have passed since the resolution of the case.  Please contact
the District Attorney branch office in the judicial district where the
crime occurred for further information.  If you are a defendant, please
contact your attorney so he or she can facilitate the return of your
property.  We do not authorize the release of firearms or other
contraband to defendants after conviction.
Q: I want to find out what prison an inmate is at and when he or she
will be released. Whom should I contact?         
A: You may contact the Georgia Department of Corrections at 1-888-
656-7660 or visit their website to perform a Georgia Inmate Query of
past and present inmates.
Q: I want to participate in an inmate’s parole hearing. Whom should I
contact?         
A:   Board of Pardons and Parole,  Thomson office (706) 595-5891.



Reporting a Crime

Q: Can I report a crime to the District Attorney’s Office?          
A: In most cases, a crime must be reported to the law enforcement
agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime
occurred. For example, if a crime occurred in the city of Thomson, the
crime should be reported to the Thomson Police Department. If a
crime occurred in the county of Lincoln, the crime should be reported
to the Lincoln Sheriff’s Department.

Q: How can I file a complaint involving another law enforcement
agency?         
A: Complaints against a law enforcement agency should be directed
to the particular agency which is the subject of the complaint.
Q: Can I report a crime to the DA’s office?         
A: In most cases, crimes must be reported to the police department or
law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county
where the crime occurred.



Q:  Would you like to be a volunteer?
A:  Contact Marie Johnson, Victim Assistance Coordinator, at the
District Attorney's Office at 706 595 7175.
210 Railroad Street
PO Drawer 966
Thomson, Georgia

706. 595. 7175
706. 595.8616 fax