Crime victims play important role in justice system

By Brian Middendorf, Guest Columnist

The Morrison County Attorney’s Office provides the citizens of the county with a wide variety of services. This article will focus on our services for crime victims.

Being a victim of a crime can be a very difficult experience. Whether you or a family member has been victimized, you may be experiencing a variety of feelings: anger, guilt, shame, fear or insecurity.

Victims of crime need to be treated with fairness, compassion and respect. They also need someone that is on their side to ensure they receive the support they need and the services they deserve. That is a focus of our office. In fact, the Morrison County Attorney’s Office has a staff member that is specifically assigned to assisting crime victims.

Crime victims have rights. For example, they have a right to be notified about plea agreements. They have a right to know about court dates. They have a right to attend sentencings and to tell the court how the crime has impacted their lives. The County Attorney’s Office strives to keep crime victims fully informed of their rights and of all important developments in their case. The attorneys in our office listen to the concerns of crime victims and answer their questions.

Sometimes crime victims are in need of financial assistance. Following a conviction, the County Attorney’s Office will seek restitution for losses suffered by crime victims. If the defendant challenges the amount of restitution requested, the County Attorney’s Office will appear in court on behalf of the victim.

If needed, the Morrison County Attorney’s Office provides victims with information on community resources and makes referrals to other agencies and organizations. For example, we refer victims of crimes involving bodily injury to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparation Board. That Board provides financial help to victims of assault, domestic abuse and other personal injury crimes.

Crime victims play an important role in our criminal justice system. Without the cooperation and assistance of victims, it is impossible in our society to hold criminals accountable.

The Morrison County Attorney’s Office is committed to giving a voice to victims and helping them with their concerns and needs.

Brian Middendorf is the Morrison County Attorney.