1. How do I report a crime?
All crime reports should be directed to the police agency in the area where the crime occurred. The District Attorney’s office does not take crime reports. Once a crime is investigated and reported by a law enforcement agency, the case is transfered to the District Attorney’s office.
2. What is a bench warrant?
A bench warrant is an arrest warrant that is ordered by a judge against the defendant in a criminal case. Bench warrants are typically issued for “failure to appear” in court.
3. How do I get my bond back?
Please contact the District Attorney’s office in the parish that the bond was issued. The case must be complete before the bond is released.
4. How do I pay a ticket?
Traffic citations can be paid at the Law Enforcement Agency that issued the citation, on-line or by phone. Phone information is listed on the back of the citation. All citations must be paid before the court date or you must appear in court.
5. How long will this take to go to trial?
The average length of time it takes for a case to go to trail varies. The more serious (rape, murder, etc.) cases take longer, averaging from 1 to 3 years. The average time for misdemeanor cases is about 6 months.
6. How can the defendant plead “not guilty” when he/she confessed to the crime?
Even though the defendant has given a signed confession, he/she has the constitutional right to a trial. Often defendants are advised to plea “not guilty” at arraignment, so that their attorney will have an opportunity to file motions in order to receive information about the crime.
7. Why does my case keep getting continued?
Many victims become annoyed because of continuations. Judges grant continuances for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, a continuation cannot be anticipated and a victim may wait all day in the courtroom to find out that their case will be continued. Continuances are frustrating, but very common in the criminal process.
8. Will I have to testify?
Victims often have a great fear of having to appear in a public courtroom and tell their story. A victim may have to testify at the Grand Jury hearing and at a trial. The victim’s advocate and the Assistant District Attorney will take a number of steps to alleviate this fear and make the experience less traumatic. After testifying, most victims feel stronger and have a sense of relief since they were able to face their perpetrator.
9. Can the perpetrator get out of jail once he/she is arrested?
After a perpetrator is arrested a bond is set within 72 hours. The amount of the bond depends entirely upon the judge. That perpetrator can bond out of jail at any time if his/her bond is paid. A defendant might be out of jail a short time after the crime is committed until trial. Defendants that cannot pay their bond may have a bond reduction hearing in which the judge has the opportunity to lower their bond.
10. Where do I go for help to pay my medical bills?
The Crime Victim Reparation Fund can assist you with medical bills associated with injuries resulting from certain crimes. The victim assistance office can give you more information on how to apply for Crime Victim Reparation money.
11. Do I have to hire an attorney?
No. In criminal maters you are represented by the state of Louisiana. In other words, an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) is assigned to your case. Civil matters are handled differently and you would be required to hire an attorney on your behalf. Although legal representation is not “required”, all victims certainly may be represented by an attorney to consult and monitor the case.
12. If a defendant pleads guilty and gets probation, does that mean he/she got away with it?
It is always important to remember that when a defendant pleads guilty it is a good situation. When a defendant pleads guilty it shortens the amount of time it takes for your case to be resolved. It will also relieve the victims and witnesses from having to testify at trial. A probated sentence is often misunderstood, and thought of as a “free ride” for the defendant. Probation requires the defendant’s active participation that he/she is required to report to a probation officer in court monthly. These monthly monitoring court dates can last from 6 months to 5 years depending on the duration of the probation that is set by the judge. The defendant will also be required to pay fines, court costs, monitoring fees, fees to the public defender, and restitution to the victim. If the defendant does not fulfill all of the special conditions of his/her probation, it is likely the defendant will have to serve jail time.