Crime Victim Service Center
Washington  Region 8

This project was supported by Victims of Crime Assistance Funds awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, US Department of Justice.  Points of view in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Office for Victims of Crime, US Department of Justice.  Grant funds are administered by the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, Community Services and Housing Division,Washington State Department of Commerce.

24-Hour 1.888.288.9221

       Child Abuse/Neglect
          Cyber Crime
           Elder Abuse
               Gang Violence
                 Hate/Bias Crimes
                     Identity Theft
                       Missing Persons

                             Vehicular Homicide

We can help you put the pieces back together.


The following information will explain, step by step, what may happen in your case. It may not apply to all cases and every step may not be represented. It is provided as a simple guide only. Our advocates are available to assist victims at any point.

1. A crime is committed.

2. The law enforcement is notified and takes appropriate action.

3. Responding officers complete an initial investigation and report.

4. If sufficient evidence exists, an investigation is undertaken and witnesses are identified.

5. Law enforcement's investigation is completed.

6. If a suspect has been taken into custody, a preliminary hearing is scheduled within 24 hours (excluding weekends) to establish
    probable cause (i.e. more likely than not the suspect committed the crime) and bail is set.

7. If a suspect is not taken into custody, a referral is made by law enforcement to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

8. The case is evaluated by a Prosecutor to determine if formally charges will be made. If so, a warrant is issued.

9. The suspect is arrested and possibly, stolen property is recovered and either returned or held for evidence.

10. In cases involving violent physical injury, the victim should be informed of prosecution and have Crime Victim Compensation
     services explained.

11. An arraignment hearing is scheduled in which the defendant will plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’

12. A pre-trial hearing is set during the arraignment hearing as well as a trial date.

13. Either the defendant changes his/her plea to guilty and is sentenced without a trial or

14. A courtroom trial is held (the victim or witness will testify). Defendant is found guilty or not guilty.

15. The defendant is sentenced or released based on the verdict. Victims have a right to be present and submit a statement to the
     court or address the court at sentencing.

16. Victims/witnesses may be eligible for release notification from the Department of Corrections.


Adjournment: A delay in the processing of a case at the request of the defendant, the People or the Court.

Arraignment: A hearing where the defendant is informed of the charges, pleads ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ and bail is set by the Court.

Bail/Bond: The amount of financial security which the defendant has to post with the court to insure his or her appearance at later proceedings.

Community Supervision: (Previously referred to as ‘parole’). Conditional release of a defendant from prison to be supervised in the community, established at sentencing hearing.

Crime: An act in violation of state criminal law.

Defendant: A person who is charged with a crime.

Deliberate: As applies to a jury, the weighing of evidence at trial's end, for the purpose of determining a defendant's guilt or innocence.

Dismissal: The dropping of a case by decision of the court.

Felony: A crime punishable by one year or more in state prison.

Jury: A group of men and women sworn at each trial to consider the evidence presented and deliver a verdict or decision in that proceeding.

Misdemeanor: Less serious offense than a felony, punishable by a fine or up to one year in the county jail.

Motion: A hearing held before the court requesting a certain ruling or decision on various issues related to a case.

Perjury: A deliberate lie or untruth made under oath, which is a felony.

Preliminary Hearing: A hearing in a criminal case in which the court determines 1) If there is enough evidence to reasonably conclude that a crime has been committed (i.e. probable cause) and 2) Conditions of release from custody.

Restitution: An amount of money determined by the court to be paid to the victim of a crime for property loss or injuries caused by the defendant's criminal act.

Subpoena: A court order directing you to be present at the time and place stated.

Victim: An individual who suffers direct physical, financial and/or emotional harm, or is threatened as a result of the commission of a crime.

Warrant: A written document issued by the court which authorizes law enforcement to arrest a person accused of committing a crime, and bring him or her before the court to answer the charges.


Being a witness will take some time. Bringing a defendant to trial is often a lengthy process. Cooperation and involvement in the criminal justice system increases the likelihood of successful prosecution. If you are subpoenaed (required to testify), the following tips may be useful:

The most important thing is to tell the truth.

Speak clearly and loudly enough so that all can hear.

Be serious in your approach.

Be courteous in your response.

Do not lose your temper.

Do not argue on cross-examination.

Don't try to memorize your testimony.

Dress properly and have a neat appearance.

Listen carefully to the questions that are asked and give thoughtful, considered answers.

Answer directly and simply.

Don't give your opinions or feeling unless you are asked.

Stop instantly when a judge interrupts or an attorney objects to a question.

You have rights


Serving all victims of crime in Adams, Grant, Lincoln, and Whitman Counties.

CVSC services are free, confidential, and provided to clients without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, political beliefs, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or marital status.