The proceedings for a criminal suit are subject to a meeting of a standard set of criteria before and during the hearing. In the event of a criminal action hearing, it is best that the procedures involved are understood by the accused. In doing so, the accused is informed of the specifics of the proceedings, their rights, as well as the definitions of the terminology used and the requirements of the defense attorney, the prosecuting attorney, and the court, that must be met. Selected Definitions [§ 1.1] 950.02, include sections where more information may be obtained.

A “Child” is person who is under 18 years of age, which is the standard age of majority or adulthood. The exception to this standard is provided in § 950.02(1) [§ 1.2]. “Family member” is defined as a spouse, a minor child, an adult child, a sibling, a parent, or a legal guardian as further described in § 950.02(3) [§ 1.3]. § 950.02(4) (a) [§ 1.4] describes the definition of a “Victim” as a person against whom a crime has been committed – or – a parent, a guardian, or a legal custodian of the person in which a crime has been committed if the “victim” is a “child”, or is deceased. In this case, if the “victim” is deceased, the “victim” may be defined as either a family member of deceased, or a person who resided with deceased.

These definitions establish what constitutes the “victim” in these cases. This establishment in identity further assists the defense attorney by informing him/her as to how the case should be built in order to proceed effectively in the court room. This is especially a factor when arguing before a jury.

The consultation requirements [§ 1.5] as they are defined constitute a procedural perspective as to how criminal cases may proceed from a consultation standpoint. The court will inquire whether or not the District Attorney has complied with the consultation requirements of the victims’ rights law [§ 1.6] This includes that before accepting plea of guilty or no contest as they are defined in § 971.08 (1) (d), § 971.095(2), § 950.04(1v) (j), the court shall personally address the defendant in order to determine that the plea is made voluntarily. This includes the complete understanding of the nature of the charge, and the possible consequences if the accused is convicted of committing the crime. This is defined in § 971.08 (1) (a).

The court will also ensure that the DA has complied with the consultation requirements of the victims’ rights law before dismissing case as defined in § 971.315 , § 971.095(2) , and§  950.04(1v)(j), and further before pronouncing sentence, as defined in § 972.14(2m), (3) , and § 950.04(1v)(L), and (m). This assists the accused by formally and personally addressing the individual accused of committing the crime, the nature of the crime, and possible consequences if they are convicted. This process further helps by defining and establishing the identity of the victim, identifying the rights of the accused, and ensuring all rights are understood before moving forward with the trial.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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