Guide for Victims in Dunn County

Rights of Victims 

  • Timely disposition of the case

  • The opportunity to attend court proceedings, and be accompanied by a service provider, unless the trial court finds sequestration is necessary to a fair trial for the defendant.

  • Reasonable protection from the accused throughout the criminal justice process

  • Notification of court proceedings

  • Have the opportunity to speak with the D.A./Intake Worker about the case

  • The opportunity to make a statement to the court at sentencing/disposition

  • Restitution when possible

  • Compensation from the state for certain crimes

  • Information about the outcome of the case and the release of the accused

  • The opportunity to complain if you believe your rights have been violated


Threats of Intimidation
If you receive threats or acts of intimidation from anyone, you should report it immediately to law enforcement. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the 9-1-1 emergency number. 

If you have any questions regarding victim/witness services, please contact the Dunn County Coordinator, Barbara (BJ) Lande at (715) 232-6832.You may also call the Victim Resource Center at (800) 446-6554. 

Please remember to notify police/D.A.’s Office/Victim Witness Assistance Program of any change in address or phone number.

Helpful Definitions:

  • Arraignment:  A court appearance when the defendant is charged with a felony and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. An arraignment follows a preliminary hearing.

  • Bail:  The amount of money that a judge determines is sufficient to release an accused and assure their appearance at later hearings. The accused can lose the total amount of bail if he or she fails to appear for court.

  • Bound over:  If the judge finds probable cause to believe that the defendant did commit a felony, the defendant is ordered to stand trial.

  • Charging:  The District Attorney prepares a criminal complaint based on the evidence and witness statements collected during an investigation.

  • Complaint:  A formal document prepared by the DA based on police reports. It lists the charges, penalties and some of the evidence against the offender.  The complaint is filed with the Clerk of Court.

  • Confer:  To talk with the district attorney or designee about the criminal case. The discussions may include plea agreements, sentencing recommendations and possible outcomes.

  • Contempt of Court:  Disobeying a court order which can result in a fine or incarceration.

  • DA Pretrial:  Conference held between the District Attorney and the defendant and his/her counsel to discuss possible resolution of the case. It is not open to the public.

  • Defendant:  The person charged with a criminal offense.

  • Defense attorney:  The defendant’s attorney.

  • Deferred Acceptance of a Guilty Plea:  A pretrial procedure which, under this agreement, the Court holds off making a finding of guilty for the period of the agreement. If the defendant successfully completes the agreement, the District Attorney’s office will dismiss or amend the charge. If the defendant fails to satisfy each and every condition, he will return to Court and be sentenced at that time.

  • Deferred Prosecution Agreement:  An agreement to suspend prosecution for a specific period of time if the offender complies with certain conditions.  Prosecution may resume if the offender fails to comply with the conditions. Upon successful completion of the agreement, the court will dismiss or amend the charges against the offender.

  • Delinquent act:  An offense committed by a juvenile, which would be a crime if committed by an adult.

  • Discovery:  The process by which the prosecutor and defense attorney learn of the evidence that the other party will present at trial.

  • Dismissal:  The charge(s) against the offender are dropped.

  • Disposition:  The final result of a criminal case is the disposition. This may be by a finding of guilty, not guilty, dismissal or a plea of no contest.

  • Due Process:  The right of the accused persons to receive notice of charges against them, be present at the trial, provide evidence to the court and face a jury of their peers.

  • District Attorney:  Under state law, the prosecuting officer who is an elected official and who represents the state in each of its prosecutorial units. Also called a prosecutor or DA.

  • Extended Supervision:  Extended supervision follows a prison sentence and is also known as community supervision. ES must equal at least 25% of the length of the time in prison.

  • Felony:  A crime which may be punishable by confinement for one year or more in a state prison.

  • Information:  Criminal charge(s) brought by the prosecutor. The purpose of filing an Information is to inform the accused of the charge(s) against them.

  • Initial appearance (plea hearing for juveniles):  The defendant’s first appearance before a judge or court commissioner. The defendant will enter a plea and the court will set bail, inform the defendant of his/her right to an attorney and set the next court date.

  • Jury Trial:  A panel of citizens who are selected to listen to the facts of the case and decide whether the State (represented by the District Attorney) has proven its charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Juvenile Court:  Similar to adult court. Hearings are closed to the public; however, victims may attend.

  • Life Sentence:  An offender who is sentenced to life and must serve at least 20 years before being eligible for release on extended supervision.

  • Misdemeanor:  A crime, which may be punishable by confinement to a county jail for one year or less.

  • Motion:  An oral or written request about a legal question made by the prosecutor or defense attorney before, during, or after a trial. Motions are filed to make a decision about some legal aspect of the case.

  • No Contest Plea:  When the defendant accepts the criminal charges but doesn't admit guilt. In turn, the court usually finds the defendant guilty.

  • Ordinance violation:  An offense for which the only penalty is payment of money (forfeiture).

  • Parole:  After being released from prison, an offender can be placed on supervision with conditions. Only offenders who committed an offense prior to December 31, 1999 are eligible for parole.

  • Plea Agreement:  A proposed resolution to the case. It is between the District Attorney, the defense attorney, and the offender and is done in an effort to resolve the case and hold the offender accountable without holding a trial.

  • Preliminary Hearing:  This is to determine if there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime. This hearing is held only for felony crimes.

  • Pretrial:  An opportunity for the attorneys to review the case, exchange discovery and discuss any possible offers and/or recommendations the State would give if the defendant were to plead no contest or guilty.

  • Probable Cause:  A determination by the court that more likely than not, a criminal act occurred and was committed by the defendant accused.

  • Probation:  As an alternative to serving time in prison, some individuals convicted of a crime are allowed to remain free in society, but have restrictions on their daily activities and are supervised. Violation of probation can result in a prison sentence, additional restrictions, or a change in conditions of supervision.

  • Prosecutor:  The District Attorney, Assistant District Attorney or Special Prosecutor who has been asked or appointed to review and handle a specific case.

  • Restitution:  An amount of money set by the court to reimburse the victim of a crime for losses or injuries caused by the crime. This is collected by the District Attorney before conviction, whenever possible.

  • Return Hearing:  Hearing to advise the court whether or not the case has been resolved or if it will proceed to trial.  This hearing is open to the public.

  • Sentencing (dispositional for juveniles):  Occurs after a guilty plea or when the defendant is found guilty at trial. (If, during the court process, the defendant changes a not guilty plea to guilty, sentencing may be immediate or at a future date.)

  • Sequestration:  An order by the court that witnesses not speak to one another about the case during the course of a court proceeding, and may include exclusion from courtroom during other testimony.

  • Subpoena:  A legal order which requires a person to appear in court and testify as a witness.

  • Trial (fact finding for juveniles):  A court hearing, sometimes with a jury, held to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. In juvenile cases, this hearing will determine if the juvenile committed a delinquent act.

  • Victim:  A person against whom a crime has been committed. If the victim is a child: parent, guardian or legal custodian of the child. If the victim is physically or emotionally unable to exercise his/her rights: a family member of that person. If the victim is deceased: a family member of the person who is deceased or person who resided with the person who is deceased. If the victim has been adjudicated incompetent in this state: the guardian of the person appointed for him or her. A victim cannot be the person charged with or alleged to have committed the crime.

  • Victim Impact Statement:  An oral and/or written statement that is presented to the court at the time of sentencing. A Victim Impact Statement is a victim’s opportunity to tell the court how the crime affected them emotionally, financially and physically.

  • Warrant:  A legal order to a law enforcement agency to arrest the person named in the order. A warrant is usually issued for an offender who fails to appear in court.
  • Witness:  Any person who has been or is expected to be summoned to testify for the prosecution, or who by reason of having relevant information is subject to call or likely to be called as a witness for the prosecution, whether or not any action or proceeding has yet been commenced.