Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don't report a crime right away?
Research shows that many crimes go unreported. Please know that if you or someone you know is the victim of a crime there is help available to you, even if you haven't contacted law enforcement yet.

What if I want to "drop charges?"
Once a defendant is arrested and arraigned, the case is opened as The People of the State of New York vs. Defendant.  A victim cannot “drop” charges in criminal court, and for victims who do not wish to further cooperate with law enforcement or prosecution this can be frustrating.  Please call the Crime Victims Unit at (518) 694-8445 if you have questions about this process.

What if I am being threatened?
It is a crime to intimidate a witness.  If you are the witness to a crime you have a right to safety.  Our office can offer help, please contact a Victim Witness Specialist at (518) 694-8445. 

"Crime victims have the right to be protected from threats, physical injury, or other kinds of intimidation.  The police, sheriff's department, or DA can offer advice regarding appropriate measures. If necessary, the court can issue an Order of Protection. Additionally, intimidating a witness is a felony, apart from any charges the defendant may already face. If you are threatened or harassed by anyone about the case, contact the DA's office, police or sheriff's department. If you receive unwanted contact once the offender is in custody with the New York State Department of Correctional Services, contact the Department’s Office of Victim Services, immediately. Witnesses and victims may receive assistance in relocating themselves and their families and may even get assistance to change their identity when necessary."

Statutory references: Criminal Procedure Law Sections

530.12, 530.13; Penal Law Sections 215.15, 215.16, 215.17; 9 NYCRR 6170; Executive Law Section 837(17).

"The victims and other prosecution witnesses shall, where possible, be provided, when awaiting court appearances, a secure waiting area that is separate from all other witnesses."
Statutory reference: Executive Law Sections 642(2) and Section 647(2).

How do I get my property back?

"Law enforcement agencies and DA’s shall promptly return property held for evidentiary purposes unless
there is a compelling reason for retaining it relating to proof at trial. The court shall assist in and expedite the
return of such property." Statutory reference: Executive Law Sections 642 (1),(3),(4) and Section 647 (1),(3).

Having your property stolen can be a harrowing experience for any victim of crime.  When it’s recovered by the police, the first thought, naturally, is: when can I get my property back? Unfortunately, the answer is not always so simple. Stolen property, as personal as it is to the victim, often constitutes the best evidence that a crime occurred.  And while it is understandable that crime victims would want to reclaim their property as soon as possible, a successful criminal prosecution requires that police and prosecutors retain the property until the prosecution is concluded.  Often, this will necessitate keeping the property until after trial or a guilty plea, which may take several months.  Crime victims are encouraged to speak with the Assistant District Attorney assigned to their case to learn more about release policies and how it affects them. 

What is restitution and how do I get it? 

Restitution is compensation paid to a victim by the perpetrator of a criminal offense for the losses or injuries incurred as a result of the criminal offense. It must be ordered by the Court at the time of sentencing, and is considered part of the sentence. Restitution may include reimbursement for medical bills and the replacement of stolen or damaged property. Restitution is NOT for payment of damages for future losses, mental anguish or “pain and suffering.” Proper documentation is a requirement of the Court for the issuance of restitution.  Please contact the ADA assigned to your case if you have specific questions about restitution.

Am I eligible for compensation?

You may be able to receive financial help from the Crime Victim Compensation Program.  This program can pay victims back for certain types of out-of-pocket expenses for physical or emotional injuries received as a direct result of the crime.  These expenses include medical bills, counseling costs, funeral bills, and lost wages and support.  This is not the same as restitution.  You may be able to receive money to help you with some of your medical bills even before you go to court.  You will have to meet certain conditions to receive Crime Victims Compensation benefits, but you can file for benefits immediately following the crime even if no arrest has been made.  If you would like more information on the benefits available, or how to apply for compensation, please contact our Crime Victims Unit for assistance or contact the Office of Victim Services at:

Office Of Victim Services
1 Columbia Circle, Suite 200
Albany, NY  12203-6383
(518) 457-8727