LEGAL RIGHTS IN WISCONSIN

Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime

Crime Victim's Compensation Program

Statute of Limitations

Reporting an Assault to Police

What to Expect After You Make a Police Report

Important Phone Numbers

***Miscellaneous Facts About the Law ***


Crime Victim's Compensation Program

The CVC has been created to provide crime victims with compensation. The expenses for the forensic exam are paid for all sexual assault victims whether or not they choose to report the crime to the police.

A victim of sexual assault may also be compensated for psychological, drug expenses, replacement value of any physical evidence held by the police, lost wages, medical, surgical, hospital expenses, and funeral which are related to the criminal prosecution. to be compensated for these expenses the victim must have reported the crime within five days after the crime and have applied for compensation within one year of the crime. Prosecution or conviction of the defendant is NOT a prerequisite to compensation, although victim cooperation with the investigation and prosecution is required.

The Crime Victim's Compensation comes from the state to the victim in the form of reimbursement.

Victim's may contact their county's Victim Witness Compensation Coordinator or contact the CVC directly at:

Crime Victim Compensation
PO Box 7951
Madison, WI 53707-7951
1-800-446-6564
(608) 266-6470 (Madison)

Wisconsin's Crime Victim's Web Site
Wisconsin's Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services


STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The legal amount of time in which a victim/survivor has to bring criminal charges or a civil suit against a perpetrator is called the "statute of limitations." The link above lists the time period for all types of sexual assault.

Reporting An Assault to Police

Call the police as soon as possible. Successful prosecution relies on reporting QUICKLY. Every hour the victim waits can hurt their chances for a strong case.

Don't bathe or shower, douche, or even touch anything that may be connected with the assault (bedclothes, articles that the assailant may have touched, etc.) and if possible, postpone urinating until after the medical exam, so evidence is not destroyed.

A rape exam kit can be used on the offender to collect evidence if the time frame permits. If the offender is arrested or taken to jail, the exam can be done without consent. An officer will gather general information about the assault, and a detective will conduct a more detailed interview. A SARTeam member, friend or support person may accompany the victim during the interview.

There is a Sensitive Crimes Unit within the Whitewater Police Department. They work with sexual assault cases. All police departments in Walworth County can call in a police officer from the MultiJursidictional Taskforce who has special training in dealing with felony sexual assault cases.

There are two procedures police have for handling assault situations.

Local police are often willing to work with other police departments if the assault happened elsewhere.

Initially, the officer will seek information about the jurisdiction, suspect, and medical injuries:

Officers will check discrepancies which may lead to re-interviewing, lineups, interview of perpetrator, or the arrest or jailing of perpetrator. The offender may or may not be arrested immediately. It is important to tell the complete truth from the beginning.

The Investigator

Sensitive crimes investigators are available upon request at most police stations. The in-depth interview is conducted in private, but you may have a friend or support person accompany you. This interview is one of the most important phases of the investigation and covers all details of the assault. The questions asked of you may be difficult to answer but are designed to help you accurately recall the incident. Feel free to request an explanation if you do not understand why a question is asked. If you do not know who the assailant is, you may be asked to look at photographs or view an in-person lineup. You may also be asked to help a police artist develop a sketch of the assailant.


What to Expect After You Make a Police Report

The District Attorney (DA)

Once the investigation is completed, the police refer the case to the District Attorney's office. This office will decide whether the case will be prosecuted based on amount of sufficient evidence. The victim may request a meeting with the D.A. to discuss the charging decision. A sexual assault advocate may accompany the victim, if the victim wishes.

If the D.A. decides to issue a charge(s), a complaint is drafted and the suspect can then be arrested or given a summons to appear in court.

Legal costs for state proceedings - NONE. If you want to sue in civil court, however, then you'll need to hire an attorney.

1. Complaint is filed with district attorney's office as a misdemeanor or felony. Defendant WILL know who is accusing him.

2. D.A. decides whether to charge and what the charge will be.

3. Warrant or summons is issued (Offender needs to show up).

4. Initial Appearance of Defendant

This may be first time victim and defendant are in court together. Victim is not required to attend. A sexual assault advocate may accompany the survivor, should that be desired.

At the bail hearing, bail is set according to likelihood of escape. The defendant is usually released on bail. Conditions can be attached (such as a restraining order or no contact with victim order).

During this time, the defense attorney represents the defendant. He/she may contact the victim on occasions. The victim is not required to talk with anyone representing the defendant. Anything said can be used against the victim in court.

From the initial appearance and preliminary hearing it may be roughly 20 days.

5. Preliminary Hearing

With the victim present in court, the court decides if there is probable cause. The victim testifies. If probable cause is not established, the case is dismissed. If probable cause is established, the defendant is "bound over" for further proceedings in Circuit Court. Both sides question the victim.

In some cases, the defendant chooses to waive the right to a preliminary hearing. If this happens, no testimony is heard and the case is automatically "bound over" for further proceedings. In a misdemeanor case the initial appearance and the arraignment are combined into one hearing, which the victim is not required to attend. Misdemeanors do not have a preliminary hearing.

Plea bargaining is possible at anytime after Preliminary Hearing. The victim's approval is not needed. The victim cannot veto the D.A.'s decision, although the victim can tell the D.A. how she or he feels about the decision.

6. Arraignment

The defendant enters a plea: Guilty, Not Guilty or Not Guilty be reason of mental disease/defect. Bail may be increased now. No testimony is taken. Victim is not required to be present. Takes roughly 10 days

Pretrial conferences involve formal meetings between defendant, defense attorney, and D.A. to discuss the resolution of a case.

7. Motions/Pretrial Motions

Requests are made to the court during separate hearings. The victim may need to testify.

8. Final Conference (with D.A.)

9. Plea Hearing

10. Trial

The trial can be a judge or a 12-person jury. In criminal cases, the jury decision must be unanimous. Pre-sentence investigation is sometimes done. The pre-sentence report includes background information on the defendant and a section entitled "victim impact." The vicitm may discuss with the investigation representative all physical, psychological, and economic effects, as well as feelings and opinions regarding sentencing. Speedy trial takes place in roughly 90 days

11. Sentencing

(Victim Impact Statement)
This is the victim's side of the story. A victim has a right to give this. If the defendant is sentenced to prison, the defendant can be considered for parole after serving 1/4 of the sentence. With good behavior, the defendant is automatically released after serving no more than 2/3 of his/her sentence. He or she will be under parole supervision for the unserved portion of his sentence. Sentencing takes place in roughly 45 days.

12. Appeals

Once the case is over, a convicted person can appeal the conviction or sentence.
The state or D.A. cannot appeal a finding of not guilty or appeal the sentence.

Cases are made and broken on consent.

Personal journals can be used against victims (even if they do not tell anyone they write in one). If victims are asked in court, they must say yes (under oath) that they keep a journal. The journal can be ordered to become evidence and may be used against the victim's will.


IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS


Jefferson County DA Office

320 S. Main Street Room 225, Jefferson 53549, (920) 674-7220, fax 920-674-7127
Victim Witness Coordinator (Laurie Anderson) (920) 674-7375

Walworth County DA Office

P.O. Box 1001, Elkhorn WI, 53121 (262) 741-4210
Victim Witness Coordinator (Bev Buchholz) (262) 741-4320

MISCELLANEOUS FACTS ABOUT THE LAW


If the victim was consuming alcohol or drugs unlawfully, priority is given to the assault. Usually the police will address the illegal substance, but there is rarely a citation issued. The officer does not want to penalize a victim for reporting a more serious crime.

If the victim is under 18, the assault must be recorded with the police. The D.A. can prosecute without consent. If the victim is over 18, the D.A. will rarely prosecute without victim's consent.

Rape Shield Laws prevent testimony about the victim's past sexual history.

Evidence of Victim's Past Sexual Conduct Wisconsin State Statute 972.11 prohibits the use of evidence of the victim's past sexual conduct in court except in very limited instances. Any conduct or behavior relating to sexual activities of the victim including, but not limited to, prior experience of sexual intercourse or sexual contact, use of contraceptives, living arrangements, and lifestyle may not be raised in court.

Three exceptions to the prohibition against evidence of a victim's past sexual conduct are:

  • The judge may allow evidence of the victim's past conduct with the defendant
  • The judge may allow evidence which could show the source or origin of semen, pregnancy or disease only for the use in determining the degree of sexual assault.
  • The judge may allow evidence of prior untruthful allegations of sexual assault made by the victim.

In addition, the defense attorney who wants to question the victim in any of these allowable areas of past sexual conduct must first petition the judge in a pretrial motion. The judge determines whether or not the questions can be asked in court.

Sex of Victim

The law makes no reference to the sex of either the victim or defendant. Therefore, both female and male victims of sexual assault are protected by the law; both female and male assailants can be prosecuted under the law.

Spouses

A person may be prosecuted for sexual assault by her/his spouse.

If the victim is over 18, the D.A. rarely will prosecute without consent but it can happen.

Restitution is a monetary award that comes from offender and goes through court system to victim. The victim or offender can go back to court later for adjustment in amount. The state can ask for restitution to cover out of pocket expenses.

Victim Witness Coordinators work out of D.A.'s office. They are liaisons between the victim and the D.A.

Parole Eligibility Notification System (PENS System) notifies the victim when an offender is released.

Revocation: If offenders have been convicted and violate parole, they can be jailed again.



This site is not meant to replace the advice of health care, counseling or legal professionals. You should not rely on any information on these pages, or information generated for you by this site, to replace consultations with qualified professionals regarding your own specific situation.

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