FAQs

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Changes to a police report - How can I drop charges against someone, make additions to a police report, or correct errors on a report?

    To make changes, corrections or additions to a police report, contact the officer who took the report.  If that is impossible, you may contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to request that a supplemental report be made. 

    Many people believe a victim of crime has the power to “press charges” and “drop the charges” against the defendant.  The State of Colorado is pressing charges against the Defendant, not the victim.  The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by the prosecutor and approved by the judge.  The victim’s wishes will be considered but the final decision of whether or not the charges will be filed or dismissed rests with the District Attorney’s Office.  If you would like to discuss your case, you should contact the deputy district attorney assigned your case and arrange a meeting between you, the prosecutor and an investigator.

What is the difference between restitution and Crime Victim Compensation?

    Restitution is something the defendant is ordered to pay to the victim, upon sentencing by the judge in the case. Often, court cases take some time to be resolved and for the defendant to be sentenced. In addition, the defendant may only pay very small amounts every month toward their restitution. For all of these reasons, it sometimes takes a while for the victim to receive any restitution monies.

    Crime Victim Compensation is a funding program that is available more quickly than restitution money. Its purpose is to help relieve the cost of the crime from the victim, as it can take such a long time to receive restitution payments. As a result, the victim is ultimately responsible for the bills, the costs of the crime, until they receive restitution money. Crime Victim Compensation is separate from restitution and victims must apply separately for victim compensation funds, which can pay more quickly. You must meet the eligibility criteria for Crime Victim Compensation and it is not awarded to everyone who applies. (SEE VICTIM COMPENSATION) 

Can I obtain restitution for things such as pain, suffering and mental anguish?

    Not through the criminal justice system.  Restitution is ordered for out of pocket expenses directly related to the crime.  If you want to seek compensation for pain and suffering, you may wish to file a civil suit.  However, neither the Victim Witness Unit or the District Attorney’s Office can advise you in such a matter. (SEE RESTITUTION)

Are there restitution laws in Colorado?

    According to Colorado law, defendants may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim upon sentencing by the judge in the case. Victims can be reimbursed for damages or losses suffered as a result of a crime, provided the judge orders the defendant to pay restitution. To request restitution, a victim must furnish information about repair costs, medical bills, or the value of items that have been stolen and not recovered. The Deputy District Attorney gives this information to the judge who orders the defendant to pay restitution. You also have a right to pursue a civil case against the defendant.

How could the defendant plead "not guilty"? I saw him/her do it, he/she confessed.

    In our justice system, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Almost all defendants plead "not guilty" when charged with a crime.  They may decide to change their plea after talking with a lawyer, or they may decide to go to trial and require that the State prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

I was subpoenaed by the defendant, not the prosecutor. Does this change anything?

    Our Victim Witness Unit helps witnesses that the Prosecutor's office subpoenas to court, not witnesses whom the defendant subpoenas.  If you are subpoenaed by the Defense you should contact them regarding testifying dates and times.

What is a subpoena?

    A subpoena is a court order directing you to appear in court at a particular time and place. It may be delivered by mail or in person. It does not mean that you are charged with a crime.  Its purpose is to bring you to court to testify.  Usually you are notified in advance of the court date. If you change your address or telephone number, immediately notify the Victim Witness Unit of the District Attorney’s Office at (970) 247-8850 or (800) 835-8522. We may need to contact you if there is a change in the date or time you are to appear. You may also contact us in the event that you have questions regarding your appearance.

    Inform your employer that you have been called to testify and you may have to appear. Your employer cannot discharge, punish, or threaten you for attending a criminal proceeding when you have been subpoenaed. If you are experiencing difficulties with your employer regarding a court appearance, please contact the Victim Witness Unit immediately.

What if someone threatens me, as a witness?

    Someone who unlawfully threatens witnesses is obstructing justice and committing a crime. If someone threatens you, call law enforcement:  the investigating officer or the police immediately. In an emergency situation, call 911. Do so as soon as possible so that threats can be documented and appropriate action taken. After calling the police, please call the Victim Witness Unit or Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case.

Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime occur.

    Witnesses are not limited to "eye witnesses". You may have seen or heard the crime happen or may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or may know something that contradicts another witness' testimony.

    You may not think what you know or saw about the case is very important; however, small pieces of information are often required to determine what really happened.  If you wonder "why" you are testifying in a particular case, contact the Victim Witness Unit or Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case. Your presence and willingness to testify may be the deciding factor in determining what will be done in the case. Many defendants hope that you or other witnesses will not show up. Your mere presence at the Courthouse before the trial may cause the defendant to plead guilty. 

What if the defense attorney or defense investigator contacts me?

    It is always your choice who you speak with or whether you speak to anyone about the case. If you have any concerns about talking with anyone (lawyers, investigators, etc.), or concerns as to who someone is you should contact the Victim Witness Unit or Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case.

Who will be with me in court?

    You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can probably sit in the courtroom while you testify unless they are also witnesses. Witnesses generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn. Our Victim Witness Advocate may also be with you, if you request.

If needed as evidence, when will my property be returned?

    The District Attorney’s Office will assist you in getting your property back after it is no longer needed as evidence. Please talk to the Victim Witness Assistant if you have special concerns.

Do I need to come to every court hearing?

    No, the only time you are required to appear for a court hearing is if you have received a subpoena to testify. You have the right to attend any court hearing you want, it is your choice.

Report a crime - I am a victim of a crime, how do I report it?

    In case of an emergency call 911.  In non-emergency instances, you may contact Dispatch at (970) 385-2900 and they will direct you to the proper law enforcement agency to take your report.