Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I to get information about my case?

    Once the case is filed with our office, a victim/witness specialist will be assigned to you. The victim/witness specialists' job is to help you understand what is going on in the case as well as to refer you to resources within the community to help meet your needs during this time. Victim/witness specialists are mandated to notify you of various critical stage events throughout the court process. Specialists assigned to cases communicate with victims in a number of ways: In person, by phone, or by mail/email.

  2. What are "critical stage" court events?

    As a victim of a Victim Rights Act (VRA) crime, you have rights under the constitution of the state of Colorado. "Critical stage" court events are events which VRA victims have a right to be notified and/or heard. Our office will notify you of all critical stages of the criminal justice process. If you would like additional information about which court events are considered "critical stages" in the criminal justice process, please contact the victim/Witness Division for assistance.

  3. What should I expect when I come to court?

    The first floor of the Justice Center has a security station. Officers are present to keep you safe. Once you go through security you will make your way to the appropriate courtroom or to the District Attorney's Office on the second floor.

    The language and style of the court is very different from day to day interactions. Court proceedings are open to the public, unless the judge imposes restrictions. However, not all court events are held in the courtroom. The District Attorney staff and your victim/witness specialist will answer your questions and help you understand court processes. If you'd like to be accompanied to a scheduled court event, please call your victim/witness specialist before the scheduled event to make arrangements.

  4. What are the different stages in a court case? Why does it take so long?

    Oftentimes, cases move through a number of stages before a disposition is reached, and this can take time. For a clearer understanding of how a case progresses through the criminal justice system, check out the felony case flow chart or misdemeanor case flow chart

  5. Will my child or I have to testify in trial against the person who committed the crime?

    The Office of the District Attorney will make every effort to prepare your child/you for testimony, should it be required. Many cases are resolved through the use of a plea agreement or "plea bargain" and will not require you to testify in court. However, should a case be set for a trial, you will be required to testify. In some cases, when child victim/witness testimony is required, if the child is very young or impaired, there may be some provision to allow a video of his or her interview to be used. In most instances, the prosecutor and victim/witness specialist will work with you and/or parents or guardians of child victims to prepare for trial.

    If you are subpoenaed to testify in court you will take the witness stand, be sworn in, and sit down. The witness stand is located in an area near the bench, which is where the judge sits, and across from the jury box, where a jury sits in the case of a jury trial. The defendant and his/her attorney(s) sit at a table nearby. You do not need to look at the defendant but he or she will be present throughout your testimony. A defendant is not allowed to make any sort of contact with you, verbally or through facial expressions, and is not permitted to intimidate you in any way. If you feel as though you are being intimidated by the defendant, please tell the victim/witness specialist or the prosecutor. See a diagram of a generic courtroom layout. Things to remember when testifying:

    • Be truthful – Just tell the facts as you know them, simply and concisely. Don't guess or speculate about an answer, even if you think you should know the answer. If you don't understand a question, ask that it be explained.
    • Answer only the question asked – The DA will guide you through a sequence of questions, many of which can simply be answered "yes" or "no." Do not try to say everything at once or volunteer information. It is alright to say "I don't know" to a question.
    • Remain calm and courteous – Slow down and think before you respond. Being courteous makes a good impression on the court and jury. Wait until a question is finished before answering. Don't try to outwit your questioners or lose your temper because it may diminish the impact of your testimony.
  6. The defendant's attorney or someone from that attorney's office is calling me. How should I respond?

    The defense has a right to contact you in order to pursue their investigation. It is your right to speak with the defense, but you are not obligated to. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the victim/witness specialist assigned to your case.

  7. I just got a subpoena. It says I can call a number to see if I am needed. Why would I need to do that?

    It is possible the defendant and their attorney may elect to enter a plea or the case may be continued at any point prior to the start of a trial. The district attorney provides two ways to check on the status of your subpoena. You can check the status of your subpoena online by entering your subpoena identification number (sid) or you may call (970) 498-7182 and enter the sid. You will receive a response with the latest information. This could occur even minutes before your appearance is required. Calling may save a trip to the Justice Center.

    If you have questions concerning this subpoena, please call our witness coordinator at (970) 498-7280 during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday).

  8. I have received a subpoena for a case and live out of state. Do I need to make travel arrangements so that I may attend?

    If you have been subpoenaed by the prosecution on a felony case, victim/witness staff will coordinate with you to make and purchase travel arrangements such as lodging, airfare, shuttle or similar assistance. You will be contacted directly by the witness coordinator closer to the court date. This will provide a much better chance the travel will actually be needed since dates do change frequently. If you have questions, please call the witness coordinator at (970) 498-7290 during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday).

  9. What is a plea agreement? What if I do not like the plea agreement made with the defendant in my case?

    Most convictions are the result of a plea agreement. A plea agreement is the result of negotiations between the prosecutor and the defendant. Once agreed upon, the plea agreement is presented to the judge for approval. A plea agreement involves offering the defendant some incentive, such as a reduction of the charges or possible consequences in exchange for a guilty plea without a trial.

    The Office of the District Attorney is legally responsible for treating similar cases similarly and, as such, may make a plea agreement that you do not agree with. The prosecutor will meet with you, at your request, in order to answer any questions you may have about the plea agreement and explain how he or she arrived at the offer. Please consult the victim/witness specialist assigned to your case if you'd like to schedule a meeting with a deputy district attorney.

  10. Is there free parking at the Justice Center?

    Much of the parking closest to the Justice Center in Fort Collins is in areas subject to time limits or parking fees. There is a parking structure on the southwest corner of LaPorte and Mason parking which is directly across the street from the Justice Center. The first hour is free, and then it is $1.00 for each additional hour. See downtown parking map »

    The parking lot at the Loveland Police and Courts building offers free parking for court events in Loveland.

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.