Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I find out which prosecutor is assigned
to my case?
- How do I obtain restitution if I have suffered
- As a victim or witness to a crime, am I required
to testify at trial if I don't want to?
- What is an arraignment?
- How is the trial date selected?
- What is a continuance?
- Can I be reimbursed for travel expenses?
- Can I drop charges as the victim of a crime?
- As a victim of a crime, how much input do I have
in deciding what charges are brought against the defendant?
- Who do I call to report a crime?
1. How do I find out which prosecutor is assigned to my case?
Call the Hanover County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office at (804) 365-6185. You must be able to provide the name of the defendant. It will also be helpful if you can provide the court date. As the prosecutor's primary responsibility requires many hours in court, it may be the next business day before your call is returned. The receptionist may be able to answer some of your questions. We are very interested in speaking with witnesses and victims of crime before the trial date and will make every effort to do so. In order to assist us, kindly leave a number where you may be reached during and after business hours. If you are a defendant in a criminal trial, the prosecutor cannot speak with you and you should have your attorney contact this office.
2. How do I obtain restitution if I have suffered a loss?
The judge may order restitution in a specific amount which can be proved at trial. Therefore, notify the court prosecutor handling your case of your desire to be compensated. You should be prepared to substantiate your loss with receipts, medical bills or other appropriate documentation. The judge will only award restitution in an amount that can be proved. Lost time from work is not recoverable as restitution. Your employer may not charge you time off from work to appear in court. If the defendant does not make restitution as ordered by the court, contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Program director at the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for assistance in enforcing the court's order.
3. As a victim or witness to a crime, am I required to testify
at trial if I don't want to?
As a witness or victim, you must testify. While the Commonwealth's
Attorney's Office cares about your concerns, once criminal charges
have been brought, the Commonwealth must prosecute the case on behalf
of the citizens of Hanover and not individual victims. If you have
questions about testifying, kindly make the prosecutor aware of
4. What is an arraignment?
It is the first appearance a defendant makes in court. At this appearance,
the judge advises the defendant of the charge and appoints an attorney
if the defendant can not afford one.
5. How is the trial date selected?
If an adult is arrested on a warrant, the magistrate will select a trial date. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will issue subpoenas for this date. If a juvenile is charged with an offense, the juvenile intake officer will select a trial date and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will issue the appropriate subpoenas. Felony cases certified from the General District Court to the Circuit Court will be set for trial by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and witnesses will be afforded an opportunity to participate in the selection of this date. Circuit Court subpoenas will then be issued by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
6. What is a continuance?
Both the defendant and the Commonwealth may ask the court for a
continuance based on a variety of reasons. Should a continuance
be granted, every effort is made to reach a witness who has been
subpoenaed to advise them not to come to court. The Commonwealth's
Attorney's Office seeks input from its witnesses to ensure the case
is rescheduled on a reasonably convenient date.
7. Can I be reimbursed for travel expenses?
The Commonwealth of Virginia may reimburse certain travel expenses
for witnesses and victims provided the witness is subpoenaed by
the Commonwealth (i.e., travel 50 miles or more in one direction
to appear in court and arrangements are made through the Victim/Witness
8. Can I drop charges as the victim of a crime?
No. Once a criminal charge has been brought, only the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, with the approval of the court, may drop the charges. In order to protect victims and witnesses of crime, it is the position of the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office not to request dismissal of charges.
9. As a victim of a crime, how much input do I have in deciding
what charges are brought against the defendant?
The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office must make an independent analysis of the facts, governed by legal ethics, statutory law and prior court decisions, in order to determine the appropriate charge. While the concerns of individual victims and witnesses will be considered, this office must ultimately be governed by these principles in its representation of the citizens of Hanover County and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office can only bring the appropriate charge authorized by law and supported by the evidence.
10. Who do I call to report a crime?
You should contact the law-enforcement agency which is responsible
for protecting the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred (for
example, Ashland Police Department within Ashland town limits, or
Hanover Sheriff's Office within the County). If it is an emergency,
call 911 to report a crime anywhere in Hanover County. If you wish
to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.