The Victim Witness Assistance Unit was created in 1975 to provide information regarding the practices and procedures of the criminal justice system to victims and/or witnesses. The unit assists victims, witnesses, and the Assistant Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney assigned to the cases.
The Victim Witness Assistants in the Adult Criminal and Juvenile Divisions assist victims in navigating the criminal justice system. In particular, the Assistants help victims in sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, and homicide cases.
Some specific duties of the Victim Witness Assistants include:
- Act as support person for victims
- Accompany victims to court proceedings
- Serve as liaison between the victims and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
- Provide information to the victims about the court system
- Provide victim rights information
- Make referrals to social service agencies (counseling, support groups, shelters, etc.)
- Notify victims of grand jury results, trial dates, continuances, bond hearings, sentencing dates, and any other hearings
- Assist victims in preparing Victim Impact Statements
- Provide victims with information and applications for Victims of Crime Compensation; can also assist victims in completing the application
- Assist victims in obtaining protection orders
- Provide information regarding VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) - the registration system for notification of an offender's release
- Assist victims with Safe at Home address confidentiality program (assistants are Certified Application Assistants through the Ohio Secretary of State)
- Obtain medical releases, medical records, autopsy reports, birth and death certificates for court
- Coordinate scheduling of interpreters
- Prepare out-of-state subpoenas and handle travel arrangements
- Assist in relocating witnesses when necessary
- Provide victims with parole board and post adjudication information
The Victim Witness Assistant located at The Center for Family Safety and Healing provides on-site assistance to victims of child abuse seen at the Center.This advocate is part of a multi-disciplinary team who also assists the victim's caregivers by providing resources and information.
The Victim Notification staff provides services and information to other felony crime victims. Upon indictment, victims will be notified of case information. Upon victims request, Victim Notification provides notification of trial dates, continuances, bond hearings, sentencing dates, and other hearings. Victim Notification can assist victims of these crimes by providing additional information about restitution, Victims of Crime Compensation, resources, and more.
If you are a victim of a felony crime in Franklin County and you have a question about your case, please call (614)525-3555 and ask for the Victim Witness Assistance Unit.
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Jane McKenzie, Director