The Henry County District Attorney’s Office represents the State of Georgia in the prosecution of felony crimes committed in Henry County. This includes cases in Superior Court and Juvenile Court. The District Attorney has established a Victim Services Program to assist victims, survivors and witnesses of crimes committed in Henry County. A team of advocates serve as the liaison between assistant district attorneys and victims to assist with the prosecution process.
The District Attorney also represents the State when criminal convictions and other decisions are appealed from the Superior and Juvenile Courts. The District Attorney also prosecutes parents who fail to pay child support. This unit has collected millions of dollars in support for children from their absent parents.
Throughout all of these duties, the District Attorney’s basic function is to serve justice.
The Victim Services’ team provides the following services:
• preparation and orientation for court appearances
• referrals to other agencies, such as organizations that provide emergency services, counseling, shelter, food, clothing or medical care
• escort and/or moral support in court
• restitution information
• property return information
• crime victims’ compensation assistance
• employer intervention
• notification of court proceedings
• on-call services for court
• post-conviction assistance
• special services for child victims, including courtroom orientation, age appropriate materials (coloring books) and video materials.
• A designated victim waiting room with toys and items for children.
Georgia law O.C.G.A. 17-17-1 protects victims of crimes and guarantees victims certain rights under the Georgia Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. Those rights include:
(1) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings;
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused;
(3) The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided in this chapter or as otherwise required by law;
(4) The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused;
(5) The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused;
(6) The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim;
(7) The right to restitution as provided by law;
(8) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and
(9) The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.
Victims also have a right to waive these rights.
To receive any updates on a case, victims must complete this form with their full name, current address and current phone number. In certain circumstances, victims may also designate a family member to exercise these rights.
The State of Georgia has a program to assist victims of crime with crime-related expenses, including:
• Medical costs
• Counseling services
• Lost wages
• Funeral expenses
• Other expenses as deemed appropriate
The program is offered as a payer of last resort. For more information, contact the District Attorney or the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program.
The following is a brief overview of the procedures involved in the criminal justice system. Of course, every case is unique and may have special considerations.
Usually, for the accused to be arrested, a warrant must be issued by a Magistrate Court Judge. This can be done by an officer or by a civilian.
An arrest is made when the police officially take a person into custody. The police are required to advise the individual of certain rights.
After the arrest, the accused will have a bond hearing in Magistrate or Superior Court. The judge will decide if the accused can be released from jail and any conditions of that release. Conditions include paying a specified amount of money, as well as some times having no contact with victims, staying away from certain locations and other conditions a judge may impose. By meeting these conditions, the accused is allowed to be free from jail while awaiting trial. The justification for bail or bond is to ensure the accused appears in court.
A preliminary hearing is usually held within two weeks after the arrest of the accused. It is usually held in the Magistrate Court. At this hearing, evidence is presented to the presiding judge, who decides if the evidence presented is sufficient
to proceed in Superior Court. This is sometimes referred to as binding the case over for grand jury presentation.
The grand jury is comprised of a group of Henry County residents. The purpose of the grand jury is to hear testimony and facts from the officer prosecuting the case. The grand jury is closed to the public. Only those subpoenaed to testify are allowed to participate. After hearing the presentation, the grand jury votes on the case. If they determine the defendant should be formally charged, they indict the case. If they determine the defendant should not be formally charged due to insufficient evidence, they no bill the case, which means the charges are dismissed.
After the grand jury has indicted a case, the accused will appear before a Superior Court judge to be formally advised of the charges and have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the Judge will probably sentence the defendant that day. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will be put on a trial calendar.
There are two types of trials – jury trials and bench trials. Jury trials are decided by a group of 12 Henry County residents selected by the prosecutor and defense attorney after the residents are questioned. A bench trial is decided by the judge. The purpose of a trial is for the state and the defense to present the evidence and law that applies. The defense is not required to put up evidence. Witnesses are subpoenaed to testify in court, which is a legal notification issued by the Clerk of Superior Court. Trials vary in length from a day to several weeks, depending on the type of case.
Usually, all witnesses are sequestered, which means they are removed or set apart from other witnesses and from hearing testimony in the courtroom.
The trial will include several phases, including jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence/witnesses, closing arguments and the charge (the judge giving the jury the applicable law). After all of these phases concludes, the jury deliberates until it reaches a verdict. The verdict must be unanimous.
The judge imposes sentence usually immediately following the trial. Sometimes a pre-sentencing hearing is held for the judge to consider. The defendant could receive prison time and/or probated sentence. Probation requires a defendant to be supervised by a probation officer through the Georgia Department of Community Supervision. Victims and survivors of sex crimes and violent crimes will be notified prior to any probation revocation hearing.
It is the victim’s responsibility to keep the Georgia Department of Community Supervision notified of his or her address. If the defendant receives a prison sentence, the defendant will enter the Georgia Department of Corrections prison system and will serve the time in a state facility. The Georgia Department of Corrections has a notification program to which you may request notification regarding release from prison upon serving the maximum sentence, transfer, escape and recapture, or death of an inmate while in custody. The state, not the judge or District Attorney, determine which facility an inmate is housed in. This is different from parole notification. To request notification from the prison system, notify the District Attorney’s office or the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles determines early release for inmates and has a 24-hour automated system for victims of crime to receive information. Victims may contact the system at 1-800-593-9474 or online.
To receive case updates from the District Attorney’s Office, victims must complete this form with their full name, case number, current address and current phone number.
The Henry County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Program does not discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. If you believe you have been the target of discrimination, you have the right to file a civil rights complaint. Information on how to file a civil rights complaint can be found with the Office of Justice Programs. Complaints may also be emailed to the District Attorney at firstname.lastname@example.org.