Child Victim & Witness
When Your Child is a Victim or Witness
The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office Victim/Witness Unit recognizes the special circumstances that surround minor victims and witnesses. Because of this, the Victim/Witness Unit provides special assistance and consideration to minor victims and witnesses. Please review the information below to see what services are available for your child.
When your child is required to testify at trial, we will assist them in preparing to testify. This is not an effort to help them "get their story right". This is a chance to help them understand what it is like to testify and what to expect while on the stand. In preparing your child to testify, our office can help them understand:
- That the number one priority is, to tell the truth
- What to do if they do not understand the question
- What to do if they do not know the answer to a question
- What to do if there is an objection
- What to do if they need to use the bathroom or take a break
- Who will be in the courtroom
- What the various people in the courtroom do
- What the process is like when they testify
Our office will normally prepare witnesses to testify shortly before trial as a matter of course. However, if you have concerns and feel that your child would benefit from learning this information soon (decreased stress for the child, etc.) we would be more than happy to meet with your child at any time. Just contact our office.
Interviews with Minors
Interviews are frequently a part of the trial preparation for both the prosecuting attorney (attorney for the state) and the defense attorney (attorney for the offender/defendant.) In order to reduce the impact and stress on a child victim, we strive to have a few interviews as possible.
Normally, a child may have anyone with them that they want during an interview as long as they are not a witness in the case. The Victim/Witness Unit is always available to attend any interviews with children or other witnesses.
You may be contacted directly by a defense attorney or investigator for an interview. While you and/or your child are free to speak with the defense on your own if you wish, our office is always available to attend these interviews with you and/or your child. If you are contacted directly by the defense or an investigator and wish to have someone from our office present at the interview, simply tell the defense attorney or investigator to set up an interview through our office.
If you already know that you want someone from our office to be there for an interview with the defense, please contact our office. We will send a form for you to complete and send a notice to the defense attorney that you want our office there for any defense interviews.
Continuances on Cases Involving Minor Victims
Continued trial or hearing dates are an unfortunate reality in criminal cases. These continuances are often necessary for one reason or another. However, in certain cases where a minor is the victim of the charged crime, the State of Washington legislature recognizes the serious detrimental effect that continuances can have on the minor victim. As such, RCW 10.46.085 was created to prohibit or limit continuances in certain cases involving minor victims.
If you have any questions regarding a case in which your child is the victim, please do not hesitate to contact us.
From the Revised Code of Washington 10.46.085:
When a defendant is charged with a crime that constitutes a violation of RCW 9A.64.020 or chapter 9.68 RCW, 9.68A RCW, or 9A.44 RCW and the alleged victim of the crime is a person under the age of eighteen years, neither the defendant nor the prosecuting attorney may agree to extend the originally scheduled trial date unless the court within its discretion finds that there are substantial and compelling reasons for a continuance of the trial date and that the benefit of the postponement outweighs the detriment to the victim. The court may consider the testimony of lay witnesses and of expert witnesses, if available, regarding the impact of the continuance on the victim.
(1989 c 332 7.)
Finding - 1989 c 332: "The legislature finds that treatment of the emotional problems of child sexual abuse victims may be impaired by the lengthy delay in the trial of the accused and the resulting delay in the testimony of the child victim. The trauma of the abusive incident is likely to be exacerbated by requiring testimony from a victim who has substantially completed therapy and is forced to relive the incident. The legislature finds that it is necessary to prevent, to the extent reasonably possible, lengthy and unnecessary delays in trial of a person charged with abuse of a minor." [1989 c 332 6.]