M. Gwyn Nash, Director
P.O. Box 1417
Lebanon, Virginia 24266
The Victim/Witness Assistance Program
The Victim/Witness Assistance Program, located in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, helps ensure that crime victims and witness receive fair and compassionate treatment while participating in the criminal justice system.
This brochure is designed to acquaint you with how the court system works. Please understand that the court process can be a lengthy one. Always call the Victim/Witness Office if you have any questions or concerns about about your case.
If any of your contact information changes while your case is pending, please let our office know immediately. It is important to make sure we have your updated contact information at all times so we can call you if we need to discuss your case with you.
VINE: VICTIM INFORMATION & NOTIFICATION
VINE is an automated service that allows you to track the custody status of offender(s) in jail or in prison. You can also register to be notified by phone and e-mail if an offender is released, transferred, or escapes. Call (800) 467-4943 or go to www.vinelink.com and follow the instructions.
Crime Victims and Witness Rights Act – Virginia Code § 19.2-11.01
- The purpose of this law is to make sure that victims and witnesses of crimes:
- Have an opportunity to make the courts aware of the full impact of the crime.
- Are treated with dignity, respect, and have their privacy protected where the law allows.
- Are informed of their rights and receive the services they’re entitled to.
- Have the opportunity to have their views heard at critical stages of the criminal justice process.
Your Role in the Court Process
- Subpoena: A subpoena is a court order directing you to be present at the time, date, and place stated. Failure to appear may result in a separate offense against you.
- Pre-trial Preparation: The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office is responsible for prosecuting the defendant. The Commonwealth’s Attorney handling your case can set up a time for you to come in and meet with him/her to discuss the case.
- Testifying: Your involvement is essential to the success of our criminal justice system. Here are some tips to help you with having to testify:
- Tell the truth – Do not pause to figure out if your answer will hurt or help the case. Just answer truthfully, to the best of your memory.
- Answer ONLY the question asked of you – Do not volunteer information and stop immediately if the judge interrupts or if there is an objection.
- Do not guess or speculate – If you do not know the answer, just say that you do not know.
- Keep calm – The defense attorney is only doing his/her job, so remember that you are not the one on trial. You are in control. Getting angry is only going to hurt your case.
- Speak clearly and loud enough to be heard – If you do not understand the question that is being asked or if you need the question repeated, tell the attorney you do not understand the question or you need the question repeated.
- Dress appropriately for court: No tank tops, shorts, flip flops or low cut blouses. The point is to appear respectful and taking the trial seriously, as you might for a job interview or going to a church service.
- Entering the courthouse: There is only one entrance into the courthouse and that is through the back doors. You will not be allowed to bring a purse, cell phone, or any weapons. Thank you for understanding that this is for everyone’s safety. There is also a no smoking policy anywhere on courthouse property.