Located in the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office
605 E. Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Maggie Cullinan, Director
Kelly Wells, Program Assistant
START BY BELIEVING CAMPAIGN - End Violence Against Women International
|About The Campaign|
One failed response... five more assaults.
Stop the cycle and make our communities safer.
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign uniquely focused on the public response to sexual assault. Because a friend or family member is typically the first person a victim confides in after an assault, each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where sexual assault predators face zero consequences for their crimes.
Because rapists attack an average of six times, one failed response can equal five more victims. Start by Believing will lead the way toward stopping this cycle, by creating a positive community response, informing the public, uniting allies and supporters, and improving our personal reactions. The goal is to change the world, and outcomes for victims, one response at a time.
To learn more visit: Start By Believing or End Violence Against Women International
The Charlottesville Victim/Witness Assistance Program is designed to ensure that victims and witnesses of criminal offenses will receive fair and compassionate treatment throughout the judicial process.
Your opinions regarding the case are important and you have the right for your input to be considered, however, all final decisions about how to prosecute the case will be made by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
CRIME VICTIM AND WITNESS RIGHTS:
As a victim or witness of crime, you have certain rights under Virginia's Crime Victim and Witness Rights Act. As a victim of a crime, you may be entitled to:
- your rights as a victim/witness of a crime
- the criminal justice process and your role as a victim/witness
- protective orders and other forms of protection
- how to obtain a warrant if one has not been issued
- financial assistance, including the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and restitution
- address and telephone confidentiality
- availability of separate waiting areas during court proceedings
- changes in court dates
- significant developments in a case such as possible plea offers
- the defendant's custody status and bond conditions if released from jail
- opportunity to prepare a written Victim Impact Statement prior to sentencing of a defendant
- obtaining a protective order and other forms of protection
- filling out forms for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund
- referrals to local resources
- understanding a defendant's bond conditions
- receiving intercession services with your employer
- receiving the services of an interpreter
Threatening a victim or a witness is a crime in Virginia. If you are threatened by the defendant or anyone else in regard to your testimony, call your local police department immediately and notify the Victim/Witness Program at (434) 970-3176.
If you are subpoenaed, we can help you with understanding;
The requirements of a subpoena and testifying in court; interceding with your employer if you are having difficulty taking off work to attend court.
Tips on Testifying
- Be Prepared. Try to recall what happened and picture the scene and the objects there. Don't try to memorize your testimony; simply tell what happened in your own words.
- Speak Clearly and Loudly. If you did not hear the question or understand it, ask the attorney to repeat it.
- Answer Only the Question Asked of You. Stop immediately if the judge interrupts or an attorney objects to a question.
- Do Not Guess or Speculate. If you don't know the answer, say so. If you give an estimate of time or distance, be sure everyone knows you're estimating.
- Tell The Truth. Don't pause to try and figure out if your answer will hurt or help the case. Just answer to the best of your recollection.
- Be Courteous. Try to remain calm and do not lose your temper. Always be polite.
- Dress For Court. Dress comfortably and appropriately (shorts, t-shirts are not good choices however, it is not necessary to dress in a suit). It is often cold in the courtrooms so you may want to bring a sweater with you.
(For more information see the Preparing for Court page)