Victim/witness coordinators, also called victim/witness advocates, are provided by county or state governments to help crime victims navigate the judicial system and to assist with compensation claims and support services. Coordinators also act as liaisons between victims and witnesses and the district attorney's office. The coordinator explains the complexity of the court system to victims and witnesses and ensures they are prepared to attend court-mandated appearances and are ready to testify.
Since the 1970s, county and state lawmakers have provided funding for victim/witness programs to assist victims and witness in criminal proceedings. These programs helped relieve the burden from the county district attorney's office, which needed assistance as caseloads mushroomed.The coordinator essentially keeps track of crime victims and witnesses to ensure their participation in the judicial process.
A victim/witness coordinator interviews and provides referral counseling for crime victims and their families. Assistance is also given to help deal with the victims' legal, medical, financial and psychological needs. The coordinator helps victims submit paperwork for compensation and transports them to and from legal proceedings. The coordinator meets with attorneys to help determine the victim's ability to participate in legal proceedings. He also assists witnesses if necessary by ensuring they appear in court and understand their role in the proceedings. The coordinator also arranges for witnesses to be available for interviews with the prosecutor.
Education and Requirements
Many agencies require that victim/witness coordinators have bachelor's degrees. Many employers seek coordinators who have backgrounds in criminal justice or behavioral sciences. Experience in counseling, crisis intervention or interviewing in a social services capacity is desirable. Some employers look for candidates with paralegal experience.
Victim/witness coordinators generally work at the county courthouse or the district attorney's office. They often make daily appearances in a courtroom. Travel to victims' homes may be required. The job can be stressful. Coordinators work closely with crime victims who likely have not recovered from their ordeal and need emotional support.
Victim/Witness coordinator salaries can range from an average of $59,000 in New York State to $42,000 in Minnesota, according to 2014 salary data from the website Indeed. In California, victim/witness coordinators average $52,000, and coordinators make an average of $47,000 in Texas. In the west, Montana victim coordinators earned an average of $43,000 in 2014. In the southeast, victim coordinators in Georgia and Florida earned $55,000 and $45,000 respectively.
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