Victim and Witness FAQs

Q: What should I do if I am a victim of a crime and wish to pursue charges?

A: If you are a victim of a crime, you should contact your local police department so they can investigate. Police Departments file misdemeanors within their office or contact the State's Attorney's Office of a potential felony charge. Should we conclude that enough evidence exists to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal charges may be filed. We cannot provide you with personal legal advice.

Our hours for walk-ins are 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Q: What should I do if I am a victim of a crime and no longer wish the case be pursued?

A: Only the State's Attorney's office can make the decision to drop or pursue charges. If you have received a "victim letter" and you do not wish to pursue charges, simply disregard the letter. If the case has already been charged you must contact the prosecutor handling the case. It is that prosecutor's decision on whether or not to pursue a charge. There may be serious consequences to you for your lack of cooperation. You should not assume that by ignoring correspondence or subpoenas a case will be dropped.

Q: What are my rights as a victim of a crime?

A: The Illinois Constitution and Illinois statutes have provisions for victims' rights.

The purpose of the Crime Victims and Witnesses Act is to implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to crime victims by Article I, Section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution. This is to ensure that crime victims are treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process and to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording certain basic rights and considerations to the witnesses of violent crime who are essential to prosecution.

Under this act, you are a crime victim if you are:

  • a person who is physically injured in this state as a result of a violent crime perpetrated or attempted against you; or
  • a person who suffered damage to or loss of property as a result of a violent crime perpetrated or attempted against you; or
  • a single representative who may be the spouse, parent, child or sibling of a person killed as a result of a violent crime perpetrated against the person killed or the spouse, parent, child or sibling of any person granted rights under this Act, who is physically or mentally incapable of exercising such rights, except where the spouse, parent, child or sibling is also the defendant or prisoner; or
  • a person against whom a violent crime has been committed; or
  • a person who has suffered personal injury as a result of another person driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or combination thereof, or of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.

Q: What are my responsibilities as a victim of a crime?

A: We cannot prosecute cases without the cooperation of crime victims and witnesses. Because we carry the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt your cooperation is necessary.

Q: Do I need to be present for every court date of the defendant?

A: No, you do not need to be present at every court appearance for the defendant. You are welcome to attend any and all court appearances you wish. You will be notified by our office when you are needed. If you have any questions about what will happen at a particular court appearance you may contact a victim/witness advocate at (618) 296-5361.

Q: What should I do if the defense lawyer wants to talk to me?

A: The attorney for the defense has the right in a criminal case to interview all witnesses. However, whether or not you speak to a defense attorney is up to you. If you would feel more comfortable having the Assistant State's Attorney who is handling the case present, arrange to have him or her there during the interview. Do not feel obliged to sign or say anything without first speaking to the prosecutor who is handling your case.

Q: How can I get an Order of Protection?

A: An Order of Protection is a court order issued by a judge to a victim of domestic violence. It orders a person to stay away from the victim and stop any violence, threats of violence or any type of harassment. To be eligible for an Order of Protection the person must be a spouse, former spouse, roommate, family member or one whom you have dated.

There is no cost for an order an Order of Protection and there is trained staff at the State's Attorney's Office that can help.

Click here for more Order of Protection information.

Q: Is the State's Attorney's Office my lawyer?

A: The State's Attorney's Office represents the People of the State of Illinois in criminal matters. Our duty is to seek justice. We are not the lawyer for individual victims. Although we will seek restitution in appropriate cases, the amounts recoverable may not equal a victim's total loss. If you feel that you need additional recovery or relief than what the criminal case can provide, you should consider consulting with private counsel. Although we cannot recommend specific lawyers our victim/witness staff will be happy to assist you in finding resources available to assist you.

Q: Is there someone in the State's Attorney's Office who can answer my questions?

A: The States Attorney's Office maintains a division to coordinate victim and witness issues. To speak with a victim/witness advocate, call our office: (618) 692-6280.

For Victims:Order of Protection Information

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