As a witness do I have to testify in front of the defendant in court?

The defendant must be present in court to hear the testimony of the witnesses. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and will ask you questions after the prosecutor asks questions.

Can I be compensated for my efforts as a witness?

As a general rule, Texas law does not authorize any compensation to witnesses testifying in criminal matters. Exceptions are made in cases where the witness is from out of state or from outside the county in which the trial is held, in which case, travel expenses and a per diem are allowed.

How do I apply for Crime Victims’ Compensation?

Every law enforcement agency in Texas is required to provide victims of crime with information about the Crime Victims’ Compensation program and an application. Applications are also available from the Collin County DA’s Office. Our victim witness coordinators are required to provide assistance to victims who ask for help filling out the form. Hospitals and medical centers may also have applications.

You may also obtain an application directly from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program in the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-800-983-9933. Or you may download and fill out the Online Application and mail it in.

How do I contact Legal Services?

Legal Services of North Texas is located at 114 W. Louisiana St., McKinney, Texas. The telephone number is (972) 542-9405.

How do I find out when a particular prisoner will be released from prison?

You can register with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) – Victim Services Division at 1-800-848-4284. You can also fill out a Victim Impact Statement that will be sent to you by the District Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Assistance Division. The Victim Impact Statement will be sent to TDCJ – Victim Services Division, when the defendant is sentenced to prison. They will notify you of any changes in the defendant’s status in prison. For example, if he moves to a different prison, escapes custody, dies, or becomes eligible for parole.

How do I report child abuse and elderly abuse?

Call the Abuse Hotline of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services at (800) 252-5400 and contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.

I am a victim in a criminal case and I want to drop the charges. Is that possible?

The decision to dismiss a pending criminal case can be made only by a prosecutor. If the prosecutor decides to file a motion to dismiss a case, the dismissal must be approved by a judge. Prosecutors make independent professional judgments, within the bounds of the operating policies of the DA’s Office, as to whether a case merits prosecution. The victim’s wishes do not dictate that decision, although they are a factor to consider. You should contact the prosecutor to whom your case has been assigned if you want to discuss your matter.

I am a victim of crime. When my case goes to trial, do I have to wait in the same public area as the defendant and family?

No, the Victim/Witness Division provides a safe, secure waiting area during court proceedings.

I was the victim of a violent crime and need assistance with paying medical, funeral, mental health, income or other related losses. Where can I get this assistance?

Depending on the circumstances, you may qualify for financial assistance from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program. Compensation is available for medical, mental health, and other similar services. The Victim/Witness Assistance Division can provide you with the application for Crime Victims’ Compensation. The application is also available through local police agencies. The application should be filled out and returned to the office of the Attorney General in Austin, Texas. The Attorney General’s office will approve or disapprove the claim.

I would like to file criminal charges against someone. Do I file through the District Attorney’s Office?

No, you report the crime to the police department or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred.

Should I attend all the court hearings?

You have the right to attend all court proceedings. However, not all of the settings of a case occur in the courtroom, even if set on a court’s docket. This is because there may be a number of settings regarding plea negotiations or other matters not related to an actual trial or an important hearing. The defendant is usually required to be present, but the setting involves discussions between the prosecutor and the defense attorney regarding scheduling, plea bargaining, and the like. You must be present if requested by the district attorney’s office or if you are subpoenaed.

What is the status of my Crime Victims’ Compensation claim?

Call the Office of the Attorney General, Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, at 1-800-983-9933.

Will I be contacted prior to disposition of my case?

You will be contacted by a prosecutor assigned to the court where the defendant has been indicted prior to his first appearance in court. Arrangements will be made at that time by the prosecutor regarding future contacts. The prosecutor or a criminal investigator will keep you informed about the status and progress of the case and will advise you of its trial setting or other disposition.