Most people have very little contact with the criminal court system, and when they become the victim or witness of a crime they are often confused by the court process and what is expected of them. If you are a witness in a criminal case, please see the last section on this page. For information about the court process in general, including what to do if you receive a subpoena, click here.
General Information for Victims
Superior and District Court Cases
Misdemeanor cases are handled in District Court. Victims and witnesses in these cases should appear in court on the scheduled court date so that someone from our office can quickly and efficiently communicate with you and explain your role in the court process. Most interactions with witness and victims in District Court will occur on the defendant’s court date. If you need to figure out when a case is scheduled, you can click here. For additional questions or issues with court dates, please contact the DA’s Office in the county where your case is pending and ask to speak to a District Court Legal Assistant.
For victims in Superior Court cases, our contact with you will be primarily through phone, mail, and in-office meetings. Our office is proactive about reaching out to victims of felonies. If you believe your case is being handled in Superior Court and you are unsure about the status of your case, please call the DA’s Office in the county where your case is pending and ask to speak to a Superior Court Legal Assistant.
A Victim’s Responsibilities:
If you wish to receive notification and to be informed of court proceedings you must notify your DA Legal Assistant at the District Attorney’s office of any change of address or telephone number you may have.
What to do if Threatened or Intimidated
Threatening a witness is a crime in North Carolina. If you receive a threat from the defendant or anyone else, call the police and report the threat. If the threat has to do with a case that is pending in court, please contact the prosecutor or the DA Legal Assistant in the District Attorney’s Office where the case is pending so we can take appropriate action.
The Victims Compensation Program, administered by the Division of Victim and Justice Services, is designed to assist persons and crime survivors who suffer personal injury or death caused by criminal conduct which occurred on or after August 13, 1987. Under North Carolina law, the victim, his/her survivors, or a legal representative may file a claim within two (2) years of the date of the crime to receive compensation from this fund.
Only certain qualifying persons are eligible for compensation, including: a victim, a dependent of a deceased victim, a person who is authorized to act on behalf of a victim or dependent, a third person who provided benefit to the victim of his/her family other than in the course or scope of his employment, business or profession.
The compensation program is designed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and/or replacement services (i.e. childcare expenses). A maximum of $30,000 may be paid for any award except when the victim dies as a result of the crime. In that case, an additional $3,500 may be paid to survivors for funeral expenses. Not all cases qualify for assistance, so please click the button link below to learn more about the program. This program is not administered by the DA’s Office.
Victims of Domestic Violence
Most domestic violence victims will have their cases heard in District Court. If you are a victim of domestic violence and your case is in Superior Court, this section does not apply, and we will reach out to you directly regarding your involvement in your case.
If you spoke to a magistrate and initiated the criminal charges, you have already been subpoenaed to appear for in the case, and your attendance is mandatory. In District Court, on the court date indicated by the magistrate, you will have the opportunity to speak to a representative of the DA’s Office. If an officer initiated the charge, we ask that you contact the Clerk’s office in the county where the charges are pending so that you can attend any court setting of the case. You can also search for court dates here. The case you are involved in may be continued to a new court date, typically scheduled on a Wednesday, upon the request of our office or the attorney for the defendant. The case you are involved in may be resolved through a guilty plea, plea bargain, dismissal, or trial. Once a criminal charge has been initiated, only the DA’s Office can decide to “drop” or dismiss the charges. All plea negotiations are handled by the DA’s Office.
If there is evidence, or you know of witnesses that have direct knowledge of your case, please bring those items and people with you to court. If necessary, we can assist in contacting or subpoenaing witnesses to court. If you have a conflict with your court date, please notify the DA’s Office as soon as you can so we can attempt to continue the case to a time when you are available.
As a victim of Domestic Violence, you may be entitled to certain rights under the Victims’ Rights Act in North Carolina. Those rights are enumerated in the section below, called “Victims Rights’ Act Cases”
Victims’ Rights Act Cases
Determining whether a case is a Victims’ Rights Case can be difficult, and with Marsy’s law taking effect soon, it can be even more challenging to understand the laws regarding victims. Please contact our office if you have trouble determining whether the case you are involved in is a Victims’ Rights Case . Victims in certain cases have rights under North Carolina Law. Victims of the following crimes qualify for these rights:
- Any Class A through E felony.
- Abduction of children (G.S. 14-41).
- Assault inflicting serious bodily injury (G.S. 14-32.4).
- Assault on a handicapped person (G.S. 14-32.1(e)).
- Assault on an executive, legislative, or court official with a deadly weapon or inflicting serious injury (G.S. 14-16.6(b)–(c)).
- Assault on emergency personnel with a dangerous weapon or substance (G.S. 14-288.9).
- Assault with a firearm or deadly weapon on a government officer/employee or campus/company police officer (G.S. 14-34.2).
- Assault with a firearm, deadly weapon, or inflicting serious bodily injury on a firefighter, emergency medical technician, or emergency room nurse or physician (G.S. 14-34.6(b)–(c)).
- Common-law robbery (G.S. 14-87.1).
- Domestic abuse or neglect of a disabled or elder adult causing injury or serious injury (G.S. 14-32.3(a)–(b)).
- Felonious restraint (G.S. 14-43.3).
- Felony death by vehicle (G.S. 20-141.4).
- Habitual impaired driving (G.S. 20-138.5).
- Habitual misdemeanor assault (G.S. 14-33.2).
- Human trafficking of adults (G.S. 14-43.11).
- Involuntary manslaughter (G.S. 14-18).
- Participating in the prostitution of a minor (former G.S. 14-190.19).
- Patient abuse/neglect causing serious bodily injury (G.S. 14-32.2(b)(3)).
- Second degree arson (G.S. 14-58).
- Second degree burglary (G.S. 14-51).
- Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor (G.S. 14-190.17).
- Stalking, second or subsequent offense or when a court order is in effect (G.S. 14-277.3A or former G.S. 14-277.3).
- Taking indecent liberties with children (G.S. 14-202.1).
- Third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor (G.S. 14-190.17A).
- Any attempt of the felonies listed above if the attempt is punishable as a felony.
When the offense is committed between persons who
have a personal relationship as defined in G.S. 50B-1(b). These include: current/former spouse; persons of opposite sex who live or have lived together or who are in or were in a dating relationship; parents/children; grandparents/grandchildren; child in common; current or former household members.
- Assault by pointing a gun (G.S. 14-34).
- Assault inflicting serious injury or using a deadly weapon (G.S. 14-33(c)(1)).
- Assault on a female (G.S. 14-33(c)(2)).
- Domestic criminal trespass (G.S. 14-134.3).
- Simple assault or affray (G.S. 14-33(a)).
- Stalking, first offense (G.S. 14-277.3A or former G.S. 14-277.3).
- Any violation of a valid protective order under G.S. 50B-4.1.
For victims who qualify based on a relationship to the defendant and/or the type of crime as listed above, you have the following rights in your case:
- You have the right to be given information about the crime, how the criminal justice system works, the rights of victims, and the availability of services to victims.
- You have the right to be informed of and be present at court proceedings of the accused.
- You have the right to talk with the prosecutor and provide a Victim Impact Statement (VIS).
- You have the right to be heard at the sentencing of the accused and at other times as allowed by law.
- You have the right to receive restitution.
- You have the right to receive information about the conviction or final disposition and sentence of the accused.
- You have the right to present your views and concerns to the Governor or agency considering the release of the accused.
The District Attorney’s Responsibilities in Victims’ Rights Cases:
- The District Attorney’s office will notify you, if you wish, of information concerning court proceedings.
- The District Attorney’s office will provide you the opportunity to talk with the attorney prosecuting the case, before the case is disposed, about your views of the disposition of the case.
- The District Attorney’s office will provide you a secure waiting area during court proceedings, if at all possible and practical.
- The District Attorney’s office will, prior to disposing of the case, offer you the right to make a statement telling the sentencing judge the impact this case has had on you.
- The District Attorney’s office will notify you in writing about what has happened in your case within thirty (30) days of the final proceeding.
- If the defendant appeals a verdict from Superior Court, the District Attorney’s office will forward to the Attorney General’s office the appropriate information about you so they can inform you on how the appellate process works.
Victim Assistance and Notification
SAVAN- Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification
SAVAN is a free, anonymous, computer-based telephone program that provides victims of crime with two important services: information and notification. The SAVAN program is designed to provide you with a quick easy access to offender information and to alert you when an offender’s custody status changes. Do not depend solely on SAVAN or any other program for your safety. SAVAN may not be available in all North Carolina Counties. For more information visit SAVAN’s website using the button link below.
Visit the SAVAN website for more information about staying informed.
Receive court date notifications to remind you a case is coming up in court.
Cases cannot be proven without witnesses. Our criminal justice process is based on a system of private citizens taking the witness stand and providing truthful testimony under oath. All criminal defendants have a right to “confront” witnesses against them. That means all criminal cases require live testimony, so our prosecutors, and the defendant’s attorney, have an opportunity to question witnesses before a judge or jury.
We appreciate the patience and cooperation of all witnesses, and will work to minimize the hassle that comes with participating in court. Our office has already initiated significant changes in how cases are heard in District and Superior Court, if an effort to resolve and finalize cases more quickly. Let us know if you need a subpoena, work or school note, and we will assist you. If you have any questions about your involvement in a case, please call the DA’s Office in the county where the case is pending, and we will do our best to help you determine your role in a case. For witnesses in Superior Court felony cases, you may be able to call our office to be placed on telephone standby for your scheduled court dates.