1. When I report a crime to the police, will I be required to sign a criminal complaint?
You do not need to sign a criminal complaint if you report a crime. However, the officer may ask you to sign a copy of the citation if you desire to make a citizen’s arrest or if you witnessed a misdemeanor crime. For more questions, contact the Prosecuting Attorney at (740) 699-2771.
2. Please describe what happens after a criminal complaint is filed.
The defendant receives a copy of the complaint from the court after a criminal complaint is filed. The defendant is required to be present first after the prosecutor receives a copy of the complaint. At the first appearance, an attorney is appointed if the defendant cannot afford an attorney. A trial date is set within six months.
For a felony crime, a preliminary hearing date is set after the first appearance. The victim and certain other witnesses may be required to appear at the preliminary hearing. The State needs to only establish probable cause at the preliminary hearing, and if done, the magistrate judge sends the case to the highest court (District Court) for a trial within six months.
Any more questions should be directed to the Prosecuting Attorney at (740) 699-2771.
3. Why does the Prosecutor’s Office plea bargain with criminals?
The prosecutor will only “plea bargain” if this results in a “bargain” for the victim and the citizens. For instance, the prosecutor may dismiss one criminal count if the defendant pleads guilty to another similar count. This may occur if the punishment will be the same whether the defendant pleads to one count or multiple counts.
A plea bargain often means the victim will not need to testify. It also means a speedier disposition of the case. Generally, the prosecutor is reluctant to plea bargain cases that involve children, violence, and repeat offenders. The victim will always be consulted prior to a plea bargain. The sad reality is that many cases are forced to be plea bargained because there are insufficient judges, courtrooms, prosecutors, defense counsel, and money to take thousands of criminal cases to trial annually. Contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at (740) 699-2771 with any further questions.
4. How do I get a restraining order?
If your case enters the criminal justice system, the prosecutor can ask the judge if the defendant has no contact with the victim and other persons. Victims of personal acquaintance and family violence can also go to the criminal clerk in the courthouse to obtain a “No Contact Order”. No lawyer is needed to obtain this order. Contact us at (740) 699-2771 for any more questions.
5. What happens when I go to court to get a restraining order?
You should contact the Victim-Witness Coordinator or the Domestic Violence Advocate at the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office at (740) 699-2771, if you need assistance in obtaining a No Contact Order. Generally, you will be asked to state the reasons under oath that you need protection.