Frequently asked Questions and Answers:
How do I report a crime?
How do I report a crime?
All Crime reports should be directed to the law enforcement agency in the area where the crime occurred. In most cases, a law enforcement officer will meet with you in person to obtain important details about the crime. The D.A.’s office does not take crime reports.
What is a warrant?
A warrant is an order signed by a judge authorizing the police to arrest a person believed to have committed a crime.
What is a bond hearing?
In a bond hearing, the defendant comes before a judge and the judge will deny bond or order the defendant to pay a specific sum of money before being released from jail. In considering a bond the judge is required to consider a number of factors, including seriousness of the offense charged against the defendant , the defendant’s prior criminal history, and the likelihood that the defendant will return to court to face the charge. This is not a form of punishment, but rather a legal way to assure the defendant’s appearance in court when ordered to appear for later proceedings.
What is Arraignment?
Arraignment is a hearing in court in which the defendant is formally charged with an offense, given a copy of the complaint and informed of his or her constitutional rights. The defendant enters a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty at this hearing.
What is a preliminary hearing?
A preliminary hearing is not a trial. It is a hearing in front of the judge in which the prosecutor, the defendant, the defense attorney, and any subpoenaed witnesses present the evidence in the case. The judge will then decide if there is enough evidence in the case to sustain the felony charge. A jury is not present in this hearing the judge alone makes the decision.
What is a Grand Jury?
A grand jury is a type of jury which determines whether there is enough evidence for a trial. A grand jury listens to evidence presented by a prosecutor and investigator and then decides if there is enough probable cause to believe that the accused person actually committed the crime. Prosecutors usually submit a statement of proposed charges known as an “indictment” to the grand jury. The prosecutor then leaves the jurors alone and they decide if the evidence gives them probable cause to believe the accused person(s) named in the indictment are guilty of the charges brought against them. If a majority of the jurors vote for the indictment, it is “returned” and initiates a criminal case against the accused.
I am the victim in a Domestic Violence case and I do not want to prosecute the defendant. How do I drop the charges?
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to “press charges” against the abuser, or to later “drop charges”. All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Georgia. Only the prosecutor can dismiss the charges. While the decision is ultimately up to the prosecutor, the victims opinion is important and the prosecutor will take those wishes into account when making his/her decisions regarding the case.
What if someone threatens me to drop the charges or to not testify?
This person is obstructing justice and could be guilty of a new crime. Contact the local law enforcement agency that originally investigated the case and then contact the Assistant District Attorney handling the case so that the threats can be documented and stopped.
What if the defense attorney contacts me about the case?
You may discuss the case with the defense attorney if you wish, but the district attorney’s office would like to know in advance before you do. Please remember that the defense attorney represents the defendant and what you say can damage the case if taken in the wrong context. If you wish, you may simply refer the defense attorney to our office for any information regarding the case and decline to discuss the case with him/her.
What is a subpoena and what should I do if I receive one?
A subpoena is a court order directing you to appear in court at a particular time and place. On the morning of your scheduled court appearance, you should call the telephone number printed on the subpoena. You will be told the status of your case. This may prevent an unnecessary trip to the courthouse in case of a last-minute change in the trial schedule.
What happens at trial, and what is my role as a witness in a trial?
In a trial, the prosecutor presents the case for the State of Georgia attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the crime as charged. The defendant may present their side of the case through the use of an attorney. The jury (if one has been impaneled) or the judge must decide whether the states case has been proved by legally sufficient evidence.
As a witness for the State, you have an important part in the trial. The truth of your testimony, the manner in which you give it, and the appearance you make while on the witness stand are all factors which may be weighed by the jury or the judge in deciding the case. You will be questioned by the prosecutor and then cross examined by the defense attorney. If you have any questions or concerns about what will happen at trial, please contact the Victim-Witness Department at 770-920-7292.
What is proper courtroom attire?
Please dress neatly and conservatively when making an appearance in court. Your manner of dress can have an impact upon jurors who listen to your testimony.
What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement is a way a case can be resolved instead of going to trial. In a plea agreement, the prosecutor will recommend a specific punishment if the defendant enters a guilty plea. Before making a plea offer, the prosecutor will take the following factors into consideration: The crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the victim’s input, and how this type of case is normally resolved. The agreement as to punishment is not binding to the judge, who may impose punishment within the range of the law. If you have any questions regarding a plea agreement please contact the Assistant District Attorney that is handling your case.
If needed as evidence, when will my property be returned?
The District Attorney’s Office will assist you in getting your property back after it is no longer needed as evidence.
What can I do to see that the defendant pays restitution for my financial losses?
Restitution is a specific amount of money the defendant is ordered to pay to the victim, upon sentencing by the judge in the case. In order to receive restitution for damages, please provide the prosecutor handling your case an accounting of what your financial losses are. Please include bills or invoices that show what expenses you incurred.
As you may know, court cases may take quite some time to be resolved and for the defendant to be sentenced. In addition, the defendant may only pay very small amounts every month toward their restitution. Therefore, it sometimes takes a while for the victim to receive any restitution money.
If the judge ordered the defendant to pay restitution, contact the probation department at 770-489-3070 or Contact the Victim Witness Department at 770-920-7292.
I was the victim of a violent crime and need assistance with paying medical, funeral, mental health, or other related losses. Where can I get this assistance?
The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in the State of Georgia offers Crime Victim Compensation to help victim’s cover out of pocket expenses. Crime victim compensation is separate from restitution and you must apply separately for victim compensation funds. Please contact a victim advocate for more details and an application.
I want to find out what prison an inmate is at and when he/she will be released. Who should I contact?
Once a case is prosecuted and closed in our office you can contact Georgia Corrections and Parole Board at 1-800-593-9474 or 404-651-6668. You can also pick up a Parole Notification form to be mailed in to the Parole Board from the District Attorney’s Office.
Where is that District Attorney’s Office located?
Douglas County Courthouse 8700 Hospital Drive, 2nd Floor, Douglasville, GA 30134. 770-920-7292. Fax 770-920-7123.