FAQ's - Victim Assistance

How can I get specific information about the case?


Call your local law enforcement agency, prosecutor’s office, or victim service provider for information.

How do I get a copy of a law enforcement report?


Most of the time, you can simply go to the main office of the county sheriff or city police department to make a request for an incident report. The person making the request should ask (1) when the report will be ready, (2) how much it will cost, and (3) what method of payment is acceptable. If it is unclear whether or not the report can be released, ask when and who to call to verify its statutes before making a trip to the agency. If the report will not be released, ask the agency to explain the reasons. Agencies are required to provide the statutory authority that gives them the legal basis to refuse the request.

A person should note: The Otter Tail County Attorney's Office can only disclose those crimes that it prosecuted. Private individuals can generally access more complete criminal records only through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul, 651-642-0672.

Is law enforcement required to give me a copy of the report?


It depends. In general, if the data are public, the law enforcement agency is required to provide a copy or allow inspection. If the data are not public (including confidential data), the law enforcement agency cannot, by law, provide a copy.

What law enforcement data are public and what are confidential?


Law enforcement data that are always public include: arrest data, request for service data, transcripts of 911 recordings, and basic information about the law enforcement agency's response to an incident.
Law enforcement data considered confidential are criminal investigative data on an active investigation. Once an investigation is inactive, the investigation report is public.

How much will a copy of the report cost?


If the person who is requesting the report is not the subject of the data (such as the victim), the request is for public data, an the report is for 100 or fewer pages, black and white, the law enforcement agency can only charge up to 25 cents for each page copied, or 50 cents for a two-sided copy.

Are there other laws that apply to different situations or crimes?


Domestic abuse: A victim of domestic abuse can request a copy of a domestic abuse report from a law enforcement agency at no cost.
Juveniles: If the offender is a juvenile, the investigative report is not public even if the investigation is inactive. 

What if I need financial assistance?


You could be eligible for reparations from the State of Minnesota if you are a victim of a violent crime and have out-of-pocket costs related to medical care, counseling, a funeral, or lost wages. You could be eligible for restitution from the defendant if he or she is found guilty or enters a guilty plea.

What should I do if I receive a subpoena or am called to testify?


A subpoena is a court order to appear in court. Read it very carefully. It will have instructions on whom to call for court information and location. However, if you have a scheduling conflict or have any questions, call whoever sent the subpoena. As a witness, you will receive a small fee for your time and mileage.

Do these rights apply when the offender is juvenile?


Yes

How will I know when the offender gets out of jail or prison?


Prior to conviction, a county jail or detention facility must notify a victim of a violent crime of the offender’s release. All victims regardless of the crime are strongly encouraged to register with the VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) program to request automatic release notification.

Can I attend all the hearings?


Yes. In general, criminal court proceedings involving adult defendants are open to the public. A judge may close a hearing or exclude a party under certain circumstances. Victims in cases involving juvenile offenders may attend the court proceedings.

What if I change my mind about prosecuting or testifying?


A crime committed against any person is a crime committed against the state. For this reason, the court can compel testimony of a victim or witness to a crime. 

What if the defense attorney contacts me about the case?


You may be contacted by the defense or a private investigator hired by the defense. You should feel free to talk with persons connected with the defendant, but you have the right to refuse to do so if you desire. If you do decide to speak to the defense attorney or a representative of that office, you may request that an attorney from this office be present while you are being questioned. 

What if someone threatens me to drop the charges?


This is unlikely to happen, but if it does, you should contact your local police department or sheriff's department and report the threat and then tell the Otter Tail County Attorney's Office.

Should I be concerned if months pass without hearing from the court or the County Attorney's Office?


Unfortunately, due to crowded court calendars, it may seem to drag on for a very long time. Please realize that we are continuing to work on your case even when you aren't hearing from us and that we will do whatever we can to move your case efficiently through the system.



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