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Suzanne Elwell Crime Victim Justice Unit Office of Justice Programs Minnesota Department of Public Safety Minnesota Victim Assistance Academy October.

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Presentation on theme: "Suzanne Elwell Crime Victim Justice Unit Office of Justice Programs Minnesota Department of Public Safety Minnesota Victim Assistance Academy October."— Presentation transcript:


2 Suzanne Elwell Crime Victim Justice Unit Office of Justice Programs Minnesota Department of Public Safety Minnesota Victim Assistance Academy October 2, 2014

3 Introduction/Crime Victim Justice Unit Overview of statutory scheme  Definition of crime victim  Categories of crime victim rights  Who has responsibilities Crime victim rights throughout criminal justice process  Pre-charging – law enforcement intervention and case screening  Prosecution phase – prosecutor’s office and courts  Post conviction – prosecutor’s office, probation, courts, etc. Wrap up/questions 2

4 Formerly known as the Office of Crime Victims Ombudsman Same function, different name. Minnesota Statutes § 611A.72-74 Established in 1986. Reorganized into the Department of Public Safety in 2003. 3

5 Information and referral Short term assist Intensive assist Formal investigation of complaints alleging statutory rights violations and/or victim mistreatment by elements of the CJS Most complaints are handled informally. 4

6 Myths Misconceptions, and The problem with Hawaii 5-0, CSI, and Law and Order. 5

7 All law enforcement interventions lead to an arrest. All cases are investigated – and right away– and physical evidence will be gathered and forensically tested. I get to know what’s happening with the investigation (and see a copy of the report). The police will call me to let me know the charging status of my case. My case is as important as any other. 6

8 If a crime happens, the offender will be charged. I can press/drop charges. I can influence what will happen at sentencing. My case is as important as any other. People who do bad things go to prison. 7

9 Information is key Getting information about rights and available resources Getting information about the case at critical points Preventing others from getting information about victim 8

10 “Crime Victim Bill of Rights” Minnesota Statutes Chapter 611A (And elsewhere) 9

11 Victim rights apply to all crime victims, including victims of juvenile offenders. Applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. Most pre-trial victim rights apply without the victim being required to take any steps Most post-conviction victim rights require opt in.

12 11 A person who suffers loss or harm as a result of a crime. Includes family members, guardian, or custodian of a minor, incompetent, incapacitated or deceased person.

13 Notification Participation Protection Compensation 12 Victims have a right to...

14 Law enforcement intervention Case screening Initiation of the case At key points throughout prosecution After case disposition 13

15 Law enforcement Prosecutors Judges Court personnel Jails and detention facilities Probation and corrections Correctional facilities Others 14

16 PRE-CHARGING Law enforcement intervention and case screening 15

17 16 Initial Notice of Victim Rights: Law enforcement officers must distribute a notice of rights and information to all crime victims at initial contact. “The Blue Card” or the “Victim Information Card.” GETTING INFORMATION AT THE POINT OF THE CRIME.

18 Must include:  Right to be informed of and participate in prosecution process and request restitution  Reparations information  Right to request name be withheld from public  Local crime victim program  Domestic Abuse – additional information regarding OFPs and rights  Homicide – additional information on rights and procedures Should include  Prosecutor’s office  Jail and VINE  Social services/help lines/etc. 17

19 Information Related Information related to CSC victims automatically withheld by law enforcement. Information about victims of child abuse and neglect automatically withheld. Identity of juvenile witness can be withheld if law enforcement agency determines that subject matter of investigation justifies protecting the identity of the witness. Victim or witness can request law enforcement withhold identity from the public. 18

20 Law enforcement must write a report for incident. If no arrest, law enforcement must assist victim in obtaining necessary medical treatment and provide notice to victim of rights and resources. Provide copy of report to victim, advocate, or attorney at no cost. 19

21 Identity of sexual assault victims must be withheld from public. Cannot require sexual assault victims to undergo polygraph examination as a condition of investigating or prosecuting a case. 20

22 Prosecutor must notify victim of decision to decline to file charges in cases of domestic violence, stalking, and criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutor must provide reasons for the decision to decline charges and provide information about obtaining an OFP or HRO at no cost to the victim. Minn. Stat. § 611A.0315 21

23 Pre-trial Release Notification: Jails and custodial facilities must notify victims of offender’s release from custody: Crimes of violence. Minn. Stat. § 629.73 subds. 1 and 2. Domestic abuse. Minn. Stat. § 629.72, subd. 6 Applies to victims of juvenile offenders. 22

24 Pre-trial Release Notification: Oral notice to victim of: Time of release Conditions of release Next court appearance (if known) Battered women/sexual assault services Followed up by a written notice as soon as practicable. 23

25 Pre-trial Release Input: Prosecutor must present relevant information involving the victim or the victim’s family account of the alleged crime to the judge to be considered in determining the arrested person’s release. Minn. Stat. § § 629.715, subd. 1(a) and 629.72, subd. 2(a) 24

26 Custody status information Request release notification for county facilities 24-hour, toll free automated telephone service Anonymous and confidential Anyone can use Telephone service: English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong Web service: English and Spanish 877-664-8463 25 Mobile app available! Victim Information and Notification Everyday

27 Peg’s story Part 1


29 28 Supplemental notice of victim rights by prosecutor: Prosecutors must notify victims of all rights under chapter 611A within a reasonable time after the offender is charged or petitioned. Typically by letter, along with notice of charges being filed.

30 29 Victims have a right to be informed of the prosecution process. Victims must be notified of the plea and sentencing hearings. Changes in court proceeding schedule if asked or subpoenaed to testify.

31 Right to safe and secure waiting area. Right to a support person at omnibus and other pretrial hearings for CSC victim. Right to a support person during testimony in delinquency proceeding. 30

32 Right to notice and give input if pretrial diversion for violent crimes. Notice and reasons for dismissal in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking plus provide information about obtaining an OFP or HRO at no cost to the victim. Notice of plea agreement: contents, right to attend hearing, and right to object (orally or in writing). 31

33 Notice is required prior to presentation of plea If victim is not present at hearing, but has communicated objections to prosecutor, the prosecutor shall make these objections known to the court. Good faith effort. Best practice to document provision. 32

34 33 Pre-Trial Hearing Plea Hearing Sentencing Hearing

35 Peg’s story Part 2

36 How Do I Get a Copy of My Police Report? Available on the OJP website. 35


38 Right to request speedy trial. Right to be notified of schedule changes if subpoenaed to testify. Victim address and other information may be withheld from defendant and/or defense attorney. Witness and victim may not be compelled to disclose home/work address, telephone number, or DOB on the record in open court. Privacy of victim records. (See “Privacy Memo”) Right to closed courtroom during minor CSC victim’s testimony. 37

39 Victim Impact Statement The victim has a right to be present at the sentencing and give a Victim Impact Statement. Community victim impact statement. Restitution The victim has the right to request restitution for losses. 38


41 Final disposition of the case Sentence modifications (felony, crime of violence) Appeals (petition, presence, disposition, release) Petition for expungement Civil Commitment (petition, outcome) Civil Commitment (release) Certain predatory offenders (Terms of conditional release, the release of offender, and limited information about offender. ) 40

42 Peg’s story Parts 3 and 4

43 Confidential request Only after conviction Only for CSC and violent offenses where there has been evidence of exposure. Compare to DOC testing process 42 Minn. Stat. § 611A.19

44 Emergency Fund – State funds distributed by local organizations to crime victims in small amounts for emergency needs. Restitution – through submitting evidence of loss to the criminal court process (prosecutor’s function) Reparations – through filing a claim with the Crime Victims Reparations Board (OJP function) Special reminders for Hennepin County: Going to initial submission of claim only Loss of support (help identify guardians of all children) Funeral home selection Crime scene clean-up Repeat, repeat, repat 43

45 Release Notification: Post-conviction Upon request, victims shall be notified of release, transfer when custody status is reduced, or escape of the offender from prison or custodial institution. Applies to victims of juvenile offenders, too. 44

46 VINE Victim Information and Notification Everyday Offender information (all inmates) Release notification (jails & detention facilities) 877-664-8463 Anyone can use. 45

47 Minnesota CHOICE 46

48 Persons who register can: Get information about offenders in a DOC facility Request release notification Provide input into re-entry plans Ask to participate in restorative justice opportunities. Improve communication with DOC case managers and field agents. Users groups: Post notification rights 47

49 48

50 Peg’s story Part 5


52 No specific penalty for non-compliance with statutory rights. No legal recourse for victims for noncompliance No “do-overs” 51

53 Rude or inappropriate treatment of victims Not following the law or agency’s own procedures and policies Poor or inadequate investigation Unethical conduct Abuse of discretion 52 Statutory rights violation Violation of specific statutory right. Victim mistreatment

54 Informal assistance A lot of second opinions Setting realistic expectations Advice on how to communicate Advice on how to complain Repairing relationships Connecting people 53

55 Formal investigation Request and review documents Interview parties Prepare Report  Findings  Recommendations  “Further discussion” 54

56 Not given a victim information card. Offender not arrested Not informed of release. Inadequate report or won’t let me see it. Rude, insensitive, or victim blaming behavior. Poor communications. Inadequate investigation. 55

57 Not provided with notice of prosecution and supplemental notice of victim rights. Inadequate charges. No notice of hearings. No notice of plea agreement and right to object; inadequate plea agreement. Not given opportunity to present victim impact statement and request restitution. Rude, insensitive, or victim blaming behavior. 56

58 Information is key Getting information about rights and available resources Getting information about the case at critical points Preventing others from getting information about victim 57

59 58 Resources for victims Resources for professionals

60 59 Crime victim brochures available in English and Spanish, and PDF versions available online in Somali and Hmong. Financial help (reparations) brochures available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Cambodian, and Vietnamese. Brochures available on OJP website. Order form on OJP website.

61 60 Suzanne Elwell, Director Crime Victim Justice Unit 651-201-7312 800-247-0390 x 8 Office of Justice Programs Minnesota Department of Public Safety 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 2300 St. Paul, MN 55101-1515 651-201-7300 888-622-8799

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