Q. Can I report a crime to the CDA’s Office?
A: In most cases, crimes must be reported to the police department or other law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county area where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in the City of Eastland, it should be reported to the Eastland Police Department. If it occurred in a county area that doesn’t have a police department, the crime should be reported to the Eastland County Sheriff’s Department.
If you are not sure to whom to report your crime, feel free to call the Criminal District Attorney’s Office and you will be directed to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Q: I am the victim of a crime and I now want to drop the charges. How do I do that?
A: Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to “press charges” against an offender, or to later “drop the charges.” All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Texas, and not just the individual who called the police nor the person who may have been personally harmed by the defendant’s conduct.
ONLY the Criminal District Attorney or one of his assistants can initiate felony charges or file a motion with the court requesting that a felony charge be dismissed. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the abuser off the victim’s shoulders and puts it on the prosecutor’s, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot “pressure” the victim into dropping the charges.
Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the prosecutor, the victim’s opinion is important, and the prosecutor will give consideration to the victim’s thoughts when making decisions regarding the case. Many factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether to honor a complainant’s request not to proceed with a prosecution. These include the nature and extent of the defendant’s prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and the future danger to the community (including the current victim.)
Q: I was the victim of a violent crime. Will the Criminal District Attorney’s Office pay for my hospital bill and my lost wages or help me collect for pain and suffering?
A: The short answer is no. However, the Texas Crime Victims Compensation Act may be able to help you with un-reimbursed medical expenses and lost income. The Victims Assistance Coordinator in the District Attorney’s Office will be able to assist you with the forms and procedures.
Q: I think someone is using my credit cards (or has stolen my drivers license). Can the CDA help me?
A: Identity theft is a serious crime. If you think that you are a victim of identity theft, contact your appropriate local law enforcement agency immediately. They will take the necessary steps to gather the information and present it to the Criminal District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
Q: If I get a subpoena, do I have to go to court?
A: Yes, you must go to court. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. (Be sure to bring your subpoena to court.)
Q: What is plea bargaining? Do I as a victim have anything to say about it?
A: There are not enough prosecutors, judges, or courtrooms to try before a jury all the felony and misdemeanor cases (over 1,000) filed each year in Eastland County. And for those defendants taken to trial, or for those who plead guilty before a trial, there are not enough jail cells in the state to hold them. These practical demands plus the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, the seriousness of the cases, the strengths or weaknesses of cases, public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence are all interests that are considered by the prosecutor when deciding how to proceed. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests. In fact, most cases are resolved in a relatively short time by the defendant’s plea of guilty. The Criminal District Attorney’s Office, however, will in most cases not finalize a plea agreement to a violent crime without consultation with the victim.