Victim and Witness Assistance Program

The Geauga County Victim and Witness Program was implemented in 1986 by the County Prosecutor's Office in an effort to make certain that victims of crime realize that they are not helpless bystanders in the criminal justice system.

The program objectives are to:
   •  Enhance the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and to do all that is possible to assist the victim and/or witness of crime
   •  Increase the coordination and delivery of services to victims of crime in order to respond quickly to the victim's needs.
   •  Expand the victim's opportunity to participate at all critical stages of the criminal justice process, as well as improve the relationship between the criminal justice system and the victim.
   •  Increase awareness of and consideration for victims of crime in major criminal justice decisions.
The purpose of the program is to:
   •  Assure victims and/or witnesses are treated with courtesy and compassion and protected from intimidation and harm.
   •  Assist victims of crime and/or their families through the complex and often confusing criminal justice processes, including court escorts.
   •  Offer 24-hour advocacy to victims of crime, including advocacy at the hospital and during police interviews for sexual assault victims.
   •  Provide direct assistance by making referrals to appropriate community agencies.
   •  Provide assistance in filing an application with the Ohio Victims of Crime compensation Program.
   •  Assist a victim in obtaining a swift return of property being kept as evidence.
   •  Assist a victim with receiving restitution.
   •  Assist victims in contacting the Ohio Parole Board regarding notification of parole or release hearings.

Victims possess specific rights from the time of the commission of the crime and all throughout the criminal proceedings.

After legal action is initiated against an offender by the Prosecutor's Office, the Victim Advocate will meet with the victim to discuss the nature of the offense and provide an explanation of the victim's rights under Ohio law, as set forth in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2930. The victim will be informed of any and all court dates and the status of the case by the Victim Advocate.

Court proceedings are generally open to the public. A victim is entitled to be present in court for any of those proceedings, if the victim so desires. Pretrial conferences are not open to the public. Occasionally a court proceeding may take place at the conclusion of the pretrial conference, so a victim may wish to be at the courthouse on the pretrial conference date.

The sentencing phase of the court proceedings is the victim's opportunity to address the court and to explain how the crime has affected his/her life and provide input on how the offender should be sentenced.

A criminal offense charged is a crime against all of the people of the State of Ohio. That is why the criminal charge/case is styled: "State of Ohio vs. the Defendant." It is the responsibility of the Prosecutor to decide what charges are to be filed against the offender, the manner in which the prosecution of the case is to be handled, and what, if any, plea negotiations are entered into. It is very important to the Prosecutor and his staff that they receive input from a victim as to his/her thoughts and wishes regarding a case against an offender.

As a victim of crime, you may be entitled to file a claim under Ohio's Crime Victim's Compensation Act. To file a claim, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 1-877-584-2846 or download an application at the link for the Attorney General's Office set forth below.

Victim Witness Advocate / Interim Program Director

Cindi Haycox-Wellman joined the Victim and Witness Program in May, 2004 as a Victim Advocate and was promoted to the position of Interim Program Director in June, 2008.  To contact Ms. Haycox-Wellman directly, please call: (440) 279-2115.