Criminal Investigations Division
Victim and Witness Services
Chief of Police
As an advocate for the rights of victims and witnesses, I would like to take this opportunity to express the importance of your role within the criminal justice system. As members of the Collierville Police Department, we believe that victims and witnesses are "VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS" and deserving of all the professional assistance we can provide to aid their concern in the criminal justice system.
The Victim and Witness Services program has been created to make your experience within the criminal justice system as convenient and understandable as possible since it is only through your cooperation that we can bring criminals to justice. I hope that all citizens will support this first step to help those who have been hurt by criminal activity.
This web page outlines the services offered by the Collierville Police Department. Your cooperation and willingness to assist the Collierville Police Department is sincerely appreciated.
L. E. Goodwin
Chief of Police
STEPS IN A CASE
WARRANT - A written order from a judge that a person be arrested. If you are a victim or a witness, the warrant is based on a written statement about the crime in which you were involved.
BAIL - An amount paid or pledged by the defendant to make sure he or she will appear in court.
PRELIMINARY HEARING - A hearing, usually in general sessions court, to determine if there is reason to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. If so the case will be "bound over" to the grand jury.
GRAND JURY - An independent group of private citizens who listen to information about the crime in order to decide whether the case should go to trial.
INDICTMENT - If the grand jurors decide that a case should go to trial, they "return" an indictment or presentment charging the defendant with the crime or crimes he may have committed.
ARRAIGNMENT - The first scheduled appearance by the defendant in Criminal or Circuit Court. The indictment returned by the grand jury is rendered and the defendant is given a copy. Arrangements are made for an attorney for the defendant and a trial date may he set.
PLEA AGREEMENT - This is sometimes inaccurately called "plea bargaining" which is a term used to describe a method of disposing of cases without a trial. Most defendants plead guilty. Once a defendant decides to plead guilty, it is up to the District Attorney's Office and the defendant's attorney to work out an agreement to present to the judge. The defendant may agree to plead guilty to the crime(s) charged or to a lesser offense, and there may be an agreement that the District Attorney's Office will recommend a sentence to the judge. The judge may accept or reject the plea. Although you will not have the final say as to what sentence is given, the District Attorney's Office is interested in your viewpoint.
TRIAL - The court proceeding in which the District Attorney, or Assistant District Attorney, presents the case for the State, attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime as charged. The defendant may present proof to dispute the State's claim. Usually the defendant chooses whether a judge or a twelve-person petit jury will decide the case.
STAND-BY or ON CALL - If the lawyers are unsure whether a case will be ready you may be told not to come to court unless called at the last minute by a Victim-Witness Coordinator or someone else in the District Attorney's Office. You will be asked to stay close to your telephone during court time so that you can be reached if needed. This often saves victims and witnesses unnecessary trips to court.
SENTENCING HEARING - After a defendant's guilty plea is accepted or he or she is found guilty after a trial, the judge decides what happens. The defendant may be sent to prison or Jail, or the sentence may be "suspended" and the defendant put on probation. Probation means the defendant is left free as long as he or she does what the judge has told him to do. He or she may also be placed in other programs, such as "Community Corrections".
APPEAL - Convicted defendants have a right to appeal their convictions and sentences to higher courts. These courts examine the record made of the trial proceedings to determine if reversible error has occurred. If a higher court finds that serious error occurred in the trial proceedings, it might remand the case for a new trial or even dismiss the charges. Although most appeals are unsuccessful, the process is often very lengthy.
PAROLE - "Parole" is the release of a person from prison before the end of his or her sentence under certain conditions or restrictions, which must be met, or the person will be returned to prison.
GUIDELINES for COURT APPEARANCES
- How will you know when to appear in court? You will be subpoenaed or notified by phone.
- When testifying, have a neat appearance.
- Before testifying try to recall information accurately in your own mind.
- TELL THE TRUTH. Even a minor fabrication can discredit the witness and weaken the case. In court, as in all things, "HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY"
- Be serious.
- Don't argue with lawyers. Be courteous at all times.
- If you do not understand a question, tell the attorney or judge and ask him or her to explain it. If you do not remember the answer, SAY that you cannot remember.
- Listen carefully to the question. Take your time, Do not give a snap answer without thinking.
A representative will be in Collierville Court and will be available to answer questions and assist with special problems, needs or referrals.
If you are intimidated or harassed about your testimony in court, contact the Victim and Witness Services office immediately at 457-2520.
If you are dissatisfied with the services offered by the Victim and Witness Services of the Collierville Police Department, you may address your complaint in writing to:
Collierville Police Department
Office of the Chief of Police
156 N. Rowlett
Collierville, TN 38017
You will receive a letter from our office explaining the referral procedure for complaints.
SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR VICTIMS AND WITNESSES OF CRIME IN COLLIERVILLE, TENNESSEE
- INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CASE
- Court Dates, Status
- Suspect Arrest Information
- Explanation of and Orientation to the Criminal Justice System
- State-provided fund available to victims
- Referrals to Shelters, Assisting Agencies and Counseling Services
- Emergency Shelter
- Emergency Food
- Crime Prevention Service - 457-2520
- Security Survey
- Self Protection Program
Victim Witness Coordinator