FAQ’s

Can I report a crime to the DA’s Office?
Crime should be reported to the police department responsible for
providing police services to your area. If you report crime directly to
the DA’s Office, your report will be referred to the appropriate police
department.

I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop
charges. Can I do that?
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the ability to
“press charges” and to “drop the charges” at a later time. All crimes
are offenses against the Commonwealth, not just the individual victim.
All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the Commonwealth,
not the individual who called the police or the person who may have been
personally harmed. Only the District Attorney can decide to withdraw
charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for
prosecuting the abuser away from the victim and places the
responsibility with the District Attorney. It also means that the
defendant cannot “pressure” the victim into dropping the charges.

Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is
ultimately up to the District Attorney, the victim’s opinion is
important, and the prosecutor will take those wishes into account when
making a decision regarding the case. A variety of factors are taken
into consideration when deciding whether to honor a victim’s request not
to proceed with a prosecution. These include the nature and extent of
the defendant’s prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged
crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges, and future
danger to the community (including to the current victim).

I was the victim of a violent crime. Will the District Attorney’s
Office pay for my hospital bill and my lost wages?
No. However, you are able to submit a claim to the Pennsylvania Crime
Victim’s Compensation Fund. You may be able to recover your losses
through this fund. You should seek the assistance of the Clearfield
County Victim/Witness Office to complete and submit your claim.

I want to file a complaint about a police officer or sheriff. Can the
District Attorney help me?
You must make your complaint to the officer’s employing
department. That department is required to receive and investigate the
complaint.

I have a complaint against the District Attorney’s Office. How do I
contact the District Attorney and will my complaint be addressed?
Yes. Any complaints with the District Attorney’s Office should be
immediately sent to the District Attorney. You can contact the District
Attorney in writing, by phone, or in person. Your complaint will be
reviewed and you will be contacted immediately to resolve your
complaint.

If I get a subpoena do I have to go to court?
Yes. If you are subpoenaed to appear, you must go to court. If you
fail to appear, the judge may hold you in contempt of court and impose a
fine or a jail sentence.

Why am I a witness? I didn’t see the crime happen.
Witnesses are not limited to “eye witnesses.” You may not have seen
the crime happen but you may know something about the crime. If you
receive a subpoena, call the prosecuting attorney as soon as possible to
discuss why you are required to appear and testify.

As a witness, do I have to talk in front of the defendant in court?
Yes. A defendant has the right to be present in the courtroom to hear
the testimony of all witnesses and to ask questions of those witnesses.

Is the District Attorney my attorney or do I need to get my own
attorney?
No. The district attorney represents the Commonwealth in criminal
court. The district attorney does not have authority to prosecute civil
cases on behalf of individual citizens.

Who decides what charges to file, and how do they make that decision?
With few exceptions most charges can be filed by police officers
without approval from the District Attorney. For serious felony cases
including murder, burglary, rape and similar crimes, the District
Attorney must approve the filing of the charges.

The decision to file or not to file charges is based upon the nature
and availability of evidence, as well as the current criminal laws. Many
charges that are originally declined for prosecution will be approved
for filing after additional investigation and further evidence is
obtained.

In order to file a criminal complaint, there must be sufficient
evidence that suggests a reasonable probability of obtaining a
conviction following a trial by jury

What is plea bargaining? And do I as a victim have anything to say
about it?
Plea bargaining is a tool used to resolve a criminal complaint before
trial. As a victim, your thoughts regarding a plea bargain are extremely
important. The District Attorney seeks to achieve justice and obtain
satisfaction for every victim of crime. However, as a victim, you must
be realistic in your wishes and recognize that State law establishes
sentencing guidelines the District Attorney and judges must follow.

It is also important to recognize that the majority of all criminal
cases are resolved through plea bargaining. There are not enough
calendar days, prosecutors, or judges to enable the thousands of
criminal cases filed in Clearfield County each year to receive a jury
trial. Because of these limitations, the majority of all cases will be
resolved through plea bargaining.

I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the
defendant and the defendant’s next court date?
Yes. To obtain information about your case, please call the Office of
Victim/Witness at (814) 765-2641 Ext. 1270.

In court the judge ordered the defendant to pay restitution to me.
But so far I haven’t received anything. Who can help me?
To determine the status of your restitution award, please call the
Office of Victim/Witness at (814) 765-2641 Ext. 1270. The District
Attorney shall make every effort to have defendant’s pay restitution in
a timely manner.

What is a preliminary hearing?
The preliminary hearing is a proceeding to determine if the
Commonwealth has sufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges. A
jury is not present and the preliminary hearing is conducted in front of
a District Magisterial Judge.