The Prosecuting Attorney’s Victim Advocate and Assistants work closely with victims of crime to insure their Constitutional Rights are upheld. In 2017, 83% of Ohio voters approved a new crime victim rights amendment to the Ohio Constitution called Marsy’s Law. Victim rights are now raised to the constitutional level, and must be“protected in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the accused.” While “Miranda Rights” protect the accused, “Marsy Rights” protects victims. Victims must be told their rights and be notified of all proceedings.  Contact our office for more information about victim’s rights and the services available through the Prosecutor’s Office.

If you have been a victim of a crime or subpoenaed as a witness, we are here to serve you, to answer your questions and to assist you in navigating the criminal justice system.

Amber Kile is our Victim’s Advocate and can be reached at 740-223-4296 or at 740-361-3566. Email address is akile@www.co.marion.oh.us.

If you have information regarding a crime, the Crime Tip Line is 740-375-8477. Calls are anonymous if you wish.

In Ohio, the County Prosecutor must represent the interests of the citizens as a whole, not just those of the victim alone. For this reason, the victim of a crime is not legally considered to be an official party to a criminal or juvenile case.

Article I, Section 10(a) of the Ohio Constitution provides that “[v]ictims of criminal offenses shall be accorded fairness, dignity, and respect in the criminal justice process, and, as the general assembly shall define and provide by law, shall be accorded rights to reasonable and appropriate notice, information, access, and protection and to a meaningful role in the criminal justice process.”

Chapter 2930 of the Ohio Revised Code sets forth detailed guidelines with regard to victims’ rights. In particular, victims should be aware of the following information.

  • A victim has the right to be notified of information regarding the case. In Marion County, our agency handles this victim notification. A letter including the name of the defendant or juvenile, the offense, and the case number should be sent to each victim along with a return form to request notification. It is then the responsibility of the victim to request notification if desired and to maintain a current address or phone number with our office.
  • A victim has the right to attend any hearing where the defendant or juvenile offender is present, although the victim is not required to attend unless subpoenaed as a witness.
  • The employer of a victim cannot take punitive action such as discharge or discipline against a victim for attendance at, or preparation for, court hearings. A violation of this law by an employer is contempt of court.
  • A victim has the right to ask the prosecutor to seek an order of restitution for financial loss or damage caused to the victim as a result of the crime.
  • A victim has the right to make a written statement to be presented to the court for the judge’s consideration prior to sentencing.
  • A victim also has the right to appear at a defendant’s sentencing and to give an oral victim impact statement to the court at that time.

Please understand that if you are represented by counsel for a criminal case we are NOT allowed to speak to you without your legal representation.

What is a subpoena?

Please call our office if you have received a subpoena.

A subpoena is a court order that tells you to appear in court at a specified date, time and place to give information. You may wish to show the subpoena to your employer to arrange for time off to attend court.

If you are unable to attend court because of a serious circumstance, you should immediately contact the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office at 740-223-4296. If you fail to obey a subpoena, a warrant may be issued for your arrest or you may be charged with contempt of court.

If you are subpoenaed by the prosecution and later contacted by the defense attorney, it is okay to talk to the defense attorney. However, you are under no legal obligation to do this. If you have any questions, call the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and ask to speak with the assistant prosecuting attorney who had you subpoenaed. If you wish, prior to speaking with the defense attorney you may request that an assistant prosecuting attorney be present during your conversation with the defense attorney. You also have a right to seek advice from an independent lawyer at your expense, although a witness is not usually represented by a lawyer.

How do I prepare to testify in court?

Before going into court to give your testimony, try to remember details about what happened, such as conversations, who was present, dates, times, colors, distances and any other relevant facts. If you made notes at the time of the event, you may be allowed to take these into court with you and you should let the assistant prosecuting attorney handling your case know that you have such notes and ask him or her if this is possible. If you signed a statement for the police at the time of their investigation and cannot remember what you said, you may arrange with the assistant prosecuting attorney to see it again.

Testifying in Court, What will happen in court?

When it is your turn to answer questions, your name will be called and you will be directed to the witness stand. Prior to taking your seat, the judge will ask you to swear an oath to tell the truth. Most witnesses take the oath to tell the truth, if you do not wish to swear to tell the truth, you can ask the judge to solemnly affirm the truth. Inform the assistant prosecuting attorney prior to your testimony if you prefer to affirm.

Child victims and witnesses may be called to serve as a witness in a preliminary hearing and trial, if they are able to understand and answer questions and promise to tell the truth. The prosecution’s case is presented first. If you are a witness for the prosecution, you will be questioned by him or her first. This is known as direct examination. You will first be asked some preliminary questions such as your name and background information and then will be asked questions about the crime that you witnessed. When the prosecuting attorney has finished, the defense lawyer will ask you questions. This is known as cross-examination.

The case for the defense is presented next. If you are a witness called by the defense, you will be questioned first by the defense lawyer and then cross-examined by the prosecuting attorney. While you are on the witness stand, the judge can ask you questions at any time.

Important:

Both the prosecuting attorney and the defense must follow rules of evidence when questioning witnesses. Neither the prosecuting attorney nor the defense can ask leading questions of witnesses for its own side. A leading question is one that suggests its own answer. Instead, they must ask the kinds of questions that allow witnesses to use their own words to describe what they saw or heard. Leading questions are allowed in a cross- examination. The defense can ask leading questions of prosecution witnesses and the prosecuting attorney can ask leading questions of defense witnesses.

Disclaimer

The above information is published by the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. It contains general information about the law. It does not contain a complete statement of the law in this area and is not a substitute for legal advice.