Office for Victims of Crime--Putting Victims First Rural Victim Assistance--A Victim/Witness Guide for Rural Prosecutors OJP seal
About This DocumentAcknowledgmentsRelated LinksHome
Rural Community Dynamics
Victim/Witness Assistance in Rural Communities
   Disparities Between Rural
    and Urban Jurisdictions

   Victim/Witness Advocates
Overcoming Challenges to Serving Rural Victims
Promising Practices in Rural Prosecutors' Offices
Supplementary Material
Case-Related Activities

Among the case-related activities that rural victim/witness advocates perform, they spend the greatest percentage of their time (18 percent) on administrative activities associated with victim assistance efforts, such as updating mailing addresses and telephone numbers, scheduling interviews for attorneys to meet with victims and witnesses, and discussing cases with attorneys. Telephone contact with victims accounted for 12 percent of the advocates' time, while providing written notification and face-to-face services each accounted for slightly more than 8 percent of their time. Less than 4 percent of advocates' time was spent on followup activities with victims after cases had been adjudicated.

Advocates in rural prosecutors' offices also spend time in court with victims and witnesses (nearly 20 percent of their total work time). They spend substantially less time in court, however, than their urban counterparts who spend more than a third of their time handling in-court activities. In the rural jurisdictions, the largest percentage of time is spent in trials (7 percent), followed by pretrial hearings and motions (5 percent) and grand jury proceedings (3 percent) in states that have grand juries. This difference between rural and urban advocates' time in court is the result of fewer resources in rural offices and the limited staff available to accompany a victim to court.

On average, victim/witness advocates spend approximately a quarter of their time on misdemeanor cases. Although many cases of domestic violence are classified as misdemeanors, these cases are often complex. They require victim/witness staff to maintain frequent contact with the victim and often to provide additional services, such as assisting the victim with protection orders, transportation, childcare, and court accompaniment. Following misdemeanors closely are rape and sexual offenses (16 percent), miscellaneous felonies (14 percent), and criminal homicides (12 percent). Two additional case types involve a significant amount of victim/witness staff time: Aggravated assault and juvenile cases each take up approximately 10 percent of victim/witness staff time. The remaining categories—robbery, burglary, larceny/theft, felony drug crimes, and economic crimes—average from 1 to 4 percent of victim/witness staff time.

This bar graph describes the average time rural victim/witness advocates spent in case-related activities, by case type.D

Note: The percentages shown do not total 100 percent because they represent an average percentage of total work time across all offices.

Source: American Prosecutors Research Institute. 2002. How Many Cases Should a Prosecutor Handle? Results of the National Workload Assessment Project. Alexandria, VA: American Prosecutors Research Institute.

Back to Victim/Witness Advocates

OVC Home | About OVC | OVC Publications | Web Site Links Disclaimer

Office of Justice Programs
Partnerships for Safer Communities