for victims of crime
A Personal Story:
The following is a story of one of the crime victims that Minnesota Alliance on Crime, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women’s membership serves:
Isanti County: Dad’s Angel
John discovered the sexual abuse of his sons.
John needed a silver bullet—a victim witness advocate.
John and his 10 and 15 year old sons live in northwestern Minnesota. One night, John and his youngest son were watching Americas Most Wanted, an episode about a sex offender. John said “You’d tell me if anything like that ever happened to you, right?” which is how he learned of the sexual abuse of his sons by a trusted male relative. Sexual abuse that started with “mentoring” and involved manipulation of that trust.
John called law enforcement and the perpetrator was charged. As a father, John was angry and frustrated. When the criminal case started, John met with the victim witness advocate. He stated that he was not afraid to go to prison in order to protect his sons. The advocate said the child abuse was some of the worst she had seen. She also said that she was very afraid that John would take matters into his own hands and hurt the perpetrator.
The advocate gave Dad her pager number. He would call it almost daily-- sometimes during the day, sometimes at night. Each conversation involved listening to John’s pain and frustration, explaining the process, convincing John to let the criminal justice system work.
Ultimately, the perpetrator was convicted. On the day of sentencing, as they left the courtroom, John handed the advocate a silver bullet. He said that every time he called the advocate, he had the bullet out, ready to use it on the perpetrator. Thanks to the advocate, he never did.
John has expressed his thanks for the prosecutor and victim advocate. Every couple of months, the advocate receives a phone messaging from John, thanking her and letting her know she was his “angel.”
John’s “angel,” a victim witness advocate, provided core public safety services—an essential government function.
“How can I get specific information about the case?”
Call your local law enforcement agency, prosecutor’s office or victim service provider for information.
“What if I need financial assistance?”
You could be eligible for reparations from the state of Minnesota if you are a victim of a violent crime and have out-of-pocket costs related to medical, counseling, a funeral or a wage loss. You could be eligible for restitution from the defendant if he/she is found guilty or enters a guilty plea.
“What should I do if I receive a subpoena or am called to testify?”
A subpoena is a court order to appear in court. Read it very carefully. It will have instructions on who you should call for court information and location. However, if you have a scheduling conflict or have any questions, you should call whoever sent the subpoena. As a witness, you will receive a small fee for your time and mileage.
“Do these rights apply when the offender is a juvenile?”
“How will I know when the offender gets out of jail or prison?”
To be informed about an offender’s release from jail or prison, you must make a special request to be notified. VINE provides information on jail release while CHOICE provides information on release from a correctional facility (prison).
“Can I attend all of the hearings?”
Yes, in general, criminal court proceedings involving adult defendants are open to the public. A judge may close a hearing or exclude a party under certain circumstance.
The Minnesota Office of Justice Programs website has brochures and information about the following: identity theft, coping with victimization, restitution, victim impact statements, tips on testifying, and post conviction issues.
The Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice has a 24-hour crime victim hotline at 612-340-5400.
When the Offender is in Custody:
The Minnesota Department of Corrections has a Victim Assistance and Restorative Justice Program.
For Financial Assistance:
For information about accessing police reports, click on the link.
Copyright 2009 MN Alliance on Crime.
All rights reserved.