Resources & Hotline
If You Become a Victim:
1) First, report the crime to law enforcement
2) Then contact the York County Solicitor’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program at (803) 628-3020
Glossary of Terms You May Encounter as a Victim/Witness:
There are sixteen judicial circuits in the state. Each circuit has one solicitor who is the chief prosecuting attorney. The Solicitor and his assistants represent the State (people) in the prosecution of all criminal cases.
Victim-Witness Advocates inform victims of their rights. They act as liaisons between the victims and other agencies. They attend court hearings with victims or attend on their behalf. They keep the victims informed of hearing dates, case updates, and defendant sentenced. They set up pretrial conferences upon a Solicitor’s request and attend them. They attend hearings when requested to attend by the victim or their family.
A subpoena is an order directing you to be present at the time and place stated. You may receive your subpoena by mail or in person. Bring your subpoena when you appear on the requested day. If the subpoena requires you to bring an item of evidence, please have it with you. Your subpoena will include a person to contact if you have questions in advance.
In many cases the law requires that a preliminary hearing be held. If so, you will be notified of the date and time of this hearing. Preliminary hearings are presided over by a Magistrate without a jury. Here the Magistrate listens to the evidence of the crime and determines whether probable cause exists to send the case to the Grand Jury for its consideration. Normally only a part of the evidence is presented. You have a right to attend the preliminary hearing but your presence is typically not required. Please feel free to call if you have any questions or plan to attend.
The Grand Jury is composed of 18 people who meet monthly in the Sixteenth Circuit. They consider each case presented to them and determine if probable cause exists. If probable cause is shown, the Grand Jury returns a True Bill of Indictment, which allows the case to go to trial in General Sessions Court (Criminal Court.) If the Grand Jury does not find probable cause, it returns a No Bill of Indictment, which ends the case. Unless notified, it is not necessary for you to appear before the Grand Jury. Please feel free to contact the Victim-Witness Assistance Program about a Grand Jury date.
Trial or Plea:
Any trial will be held in the County Courthouse. At trial the State, represented by the Circuit Solicitor and/or his assistants, has the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To meet its burden, the State presents evidence of the crime which includes, among other things, the live testimony of victims and witnesses. Your victim advocate in conjunction with the solicitor prosecuting the case will keep you informed of trial dates. In some cases, however, a trial will not be required because the defendant will plead guilty. When this happens, your testimony will not be required; however, each victim has the right and privilege to be present and address the Judge before sentencing.