How does a criminal prosecution begin?
The process begins when a citizen or police officer makes an official police report about an alleged crime in the city where the incident occurred. The case is assigned to a police investigator (detective) who interviews witnesses, collects evidence, and prepares a summary for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. An assistant prosecutor will review the documents submitted by the police and will interview you. The assistant prosecutor will decide what criminal charges are appropriate.
Will I have to testify in court?
If charges are issued, you will have to testify in court unless the defendant pleads guilty.
What if my neighbor saw who committed the crime, but he doesn't want to get involved. May I just tell the judge what he told me?
No, that would be hearsay unless it falls under an exception to the Rules of Evidence. A witness must testify to what he or she saw or did. The prosecutor's office can subpoena your neighbor to come to court.
What if I don't speak or understand English very well?
The court will provide an interpreter for the court proceedings.
Can the defendant be ordered to pay restitution to me?
If the defendant is found guilty, then the judge determines the amount of restitution as a part of the sentence. Please bring your receipts for damages, your medical bills, your proof of lost wages, etc. to the assistant prosecutor.
Will I have the same prosecutor from beginning to end?
Probably not. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office must cover criminal hearings in the district courts, Wayne County Circuit Court, and the appellate courts. At each stage, you may have a different assistant prosecutor. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office does try to have the same prosecutor for all court proceedings involving young children, elderly victims or other vulnerable adults.
How will I know when to come to court?
You will be notified by the police or someone from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. Please provide them with your current address and contact numbers. If this information changes, then let us know immediately.