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Overcoming Challenges to Serving Rural Victims
Promising Practices in Rural Prosecutors' Offices
Supplementary Material
 
A Week in the Life of the Rural Victim Advocate

Regardless of their exact duties, no week is ever "typical" for rural advocates; their roles and responsibilities change depending on the caseload and the needs of the prosecutor. Many rural jurisdictions hold court sessions on a part-time basis or alternate days among satellite courts. It is rare for rural advocates to be in court all day and all week. It is more likely that they will spend much of their time on non-case-related activities.

To truly convey the many roles and responsibilities of the rural advocate, APRI compiled a hypothetical week in the life of the victim service provider.

A Week in the Life of the Rural Victim Advocate

A Week in the Life of the Rural Victim Advocate
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Monday may be arraignment day, a particularly busy day for the advocate. In addition to cases that will be arraigned, several individuals may have been arrested over the weekend. A list of duties for the advocate may include—

  • Obtaining copies of police reports for new cases.

  • Contacting victims on cases in which the prosecutor is going to request bail. (The prosecutor may need additional information that was not available in the initial police reports; this is especially important with domestic violence cases.)

  • Recording hearing or trial dates for cases that have victims or witnesses.

  • Creating files for new cases after court is adjourned.

  • Reviewing the police reports and determining what paperwork the victim will need to complete (e.g., property and/or medical restitution forms, victim impact statements). Rural advocates rarely have their own support staff and usually must prepare their own letters and other paperwork to send to victims.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday may be non-court days, or court may be conducted in a satellite location elsewhere in the county. If the jurisdiction has a part-time advocate to handle the satellite court, the full-time advocate will work in the main office on these days.

  • The advocate performs general office duties on non-court days. She or he covers the phones while the receptionist is at lunch or on breaks, copies police reports, prepares documents, and files motions.

  • The advocate phones victims and witnesses to explain the criminal justice system, address their questions and concerns, and inform them of their rights.

  • The advocate schedules and holds pretrial interviews, which may include the prosecutor, depending on the case and the prosecutor's style and schedule.

  • The advocate arranges transportation for those victims and witnesses who need it to get to court for trials and hearings later in the week.

  • The advocate prepares case-related files and paperwork.
  • All trials are on Thursdays and continue on Fridays, if necessary. The advocate must—

  • Organize victims and witnesses for various trials.

  • Track down victims and witnesses who did not attend court.

  • Interview victims and witnesses and report information back to the prosecutor.

  • Explain to victims and witnesses the possibility of a plea bargain and get their input.

  • Explain the conditions of a plea bargain, if one is reached.

  • Explain to victims what they should expect, and what is expected of them, at trial.

  • Accompany victims to court.
  • Pretrial hearings and motion hearings are conducted. The advocate—

  • Accompanies victims and witnesses to court and explains the process and the outcome of hearings.

  • Records postponements, continuances, and outcomes so she or he can notify victims who are not present.

  • Handles any new cases or situations. For example, if a victim of domestic violence requests a restraining order, the advocate will explain the paperwork and walk the victim through the process. She or he will also accompany the victim to court.

  • Continues to work with the prosecutor, as well as victims and witnesses, when trials continue from the previous day.

  • Stays late to prepare for next week's cases, if a trial lasts for 2 days and, therefore, takes away office time.
  • As this schedule illustrates, the lack of staffing and resources are challenges that force rural providers of victim assistance to multitask, work longer hours, and take on various roles within their offices. These factors represent only two of the challenges to providing assistance to rural crime victims.


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