Crime Victim Services

As the recent victim or witness of a crime, you will soon experience firsthand the process of the criminal justice system. You will play an important role in the process. Without the cooperation and assistance of victims and witnesses, it is impossible in our society to hold criminals accountable.

Our office has recognized that too often victims and witnesses are the forgotten people in the criminal justice system. We are committed to giving voice to victims' and witnesses' concerns and needs. Toward that end, we have worked with the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs in establishing a Crime Victim/Witness Program for Beltrami County.

Beltrami County Crime Victim Services can help you throughout your participation in the legal system. If you would like assistance, these are some of the areas the Beltrami County Attorney's Office can help:

  • -Referral for you and your family for counseling or assistance from other agencies (Community Services).
  • -Education about the criminal justice system and your role as a victim or witness to a crime.
  • -Help with intimidation or coercion by the defendant. Threats by the defendant are against the law. Call you local law enforcement agency immediately should this occur.
  • -Information about what is happening in your case and what procedure is followed.
  • -Familiarization with the courtroom if you are asked to testify.
  • -Assistance in understanding your rights as a victim.
  • -Assistance in obtaining time off from your job to testify in court.
  • -Information as to the eligibility and assistance in applying for money from either the defendant or the Minnesota Reparations Board.

If you would like assistance, or have questions about the criminal justice system, please call our Victim Assistance Coordinator at 218-333-8041.

  • Right to request restitution
    Right to be notified of any plea negotiations
    Right to object or agree to any plea agreement or the proposed disposition
    Right to be notified of any changes in court schedules, date, time and place of sentencing
    Right to have input into the pre-trial diversion program
    Right to attend sentencing and to submit an impact statement, either orally or in writing
    Right to be notified of release of offender from prison or any institution
    Right to a secure waiting room
    Right not to have your address given in court
    Right not to be dismissed or disciplined by employers when called to testify in court
    Right to be free from intimidation. Tampering with a witness is against the law

 

Who do I contact if I have been the victim of a crime?

You may contact the Victim/Witness office at: 218-333-8041 or email
Office is located in the Judicial Center at 600 Minnesota Ave NW, Ste 400, Bemidji, MN 56601

What should I expect in a criminal proceeding?

The court process is often lengthy and confusing. The following is a general outline of the criminal prosecution procedures and stages. Individual cases may vary.

First Appearance/Arraignment: At this hearing, a defendant arrested with or without a warrant or served with a summons or citation appears before a judge, is advised of the nature of the charge, receives a copy of the complaint, if not already received, is informed of their rights. The Judge may set bail and advise the defendant of the conditions under which the defendant may be released.

Omnibus Hearing: If the defendant does not plead guilty, the court shall hear and determine all motions made by the defendant or prosecution, including a motion that there is an insufficient showing to believe that the defendant committed the offense charged. The court shall determine any other constitutional, evidentiary, procedural or other issues that may be heard or disposed of before trial and such other matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial.

Pre-Trial Conference: At this hearing, plea agreements are negotiated with input from victims. Victim presence is not required but is requested. If the defendant pleads guilty, sentencing is sometimes on the same day. If the defendant pleads not guilty in any case, a trial date is set.

Trial: Criminal trials include a jury unless the defendant waives a jury trial, in which case the trial will be to the judge. Witnesses are called to testify about the facts of the case. The victim is required to testify if subpoenaed.

Sentencing: If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty following a trial, the judge imposes punishment which can include jail or prison, fines, community service, restitution to the victim, terms of probation, counseling or treatment programs, etc. Victims are encouraged to attend and give a victim impact statement.

What is Restitution?

Restitution may be ordered by the Court to restore the victim for expenses incurred related to the crime. Restitution can be ordered both in adult and juvenile criminal cases at sentencing (adult) and disposition (juvenile) hearings.

How can I request Restitution?

You must complete an Affidavit of Restitution form. Here you will provide a list of your losses, the dollar value of repair or replacement, and receipts or reasons justifying the amounts. The form should be filed as soon as possible.

To recuperate your losses, we need to have this information before a plea of guilt.

Examples of losses covered by restitution include, but are not limited to:

  • * medical bills not covered by insurance
  • * transportation
  • * lost wages
  • * repair or replacement of stolen or damaged property

Copies of bills, receipts, insurance claim forms, and estimates should be attached to the affidavit of restitution form. The form must also be stamped, notarized, and include the defendant's name and court file numbers. If you need help or assistance completing the affidavit of restitution form, please call 218-333-8041.

What is Reparation?

What is Reparation?

Reparation is money available to assist victims with certain costs incurred as a result of a crime, such as:

    * medical care
  • * counseling costs
  • * lost wages
  • * substitute child care
  • * funeral expenses
  • * Property damage or loss is not covered.

Most claims must be filed within 3 years of the incident. Victims of violent crimes should file a claim for reparations even if they are also requesting restitution. It is not guaranteed the offender will pay restitution and not all victims are eligible for reparations. The Beltrami County Victim/Witness Office can assist you with that process.

What is the difference between Restitution and Reparation?

Restitution:

  • * Financial responsibility of the defendant
  • * Only available if the offender is convicted of a crime and the judge orders it to be paid
  • * Can only be ordered for expenses directly related to a crime, including property losses

Reparations:

  • * Financial assistance from the government
  • * Available for victims of violent crimes regardless of whether the case is charged or the offender is found guilty
  • * Only available for victims of crimes reported to law enforcement
  • * Does not cover property losses

 

What is a Victim Impact Statement?

A Victim Impact Statement may be the only means of making offenders aware of the harm they have caused. A Victim Impact Statement can be written or oral. It gives the victim an opportunity to provide information for the judge to consider at sentencing and allows the victim to express the pain, anguish, and financial devastation the crime has caused. It also provides the court with information, which leads to appropriate sentences and suitable restitution.

According to the law, the victim determines how the statement should be presented at the sentencing or disposition hearing. They may choose one of the following:

  • * Present the statement in written form;
  • * Present the statement orally to the court; or,
  • *Request the prosecuting attorney or victim coordinator to orally present the statement.

 

The following are items to consider including in your Victim Impact Statement:

    * A brief summary of the harm or trauma suffered as a result of the crime
  • * A summary of the financial loss or damage suffered as a result of the crime
  • * The victim's reactions or objections to the proposed sentence
  • * Opinion regarding jail, prison, work release privileges, community service can be addressed
  • * A short statement of what the desired outcome should be, including support for, or opposition to, treatment or community service programs, and the reasons in support of such outcomes
  • * Highlights about the victim, their past accomplishments, hopes for the future, and what the crime has done to these activities
  • * The overall effect the incident has had on the victim and family