What You Can Do
Listed below are several things you should keep in mind or consider if you are the victim of a crime.
- Develop a good relationship with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor handling your case.
- Keep the district attorney’s office informed during all stages of the criminal justice process, and contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator.
You will want to inform the office of:
- Your address and phone numbers, and any changes
- Your desire to be kept informed
- How you would like to be informed
- Facts and information important to the investigation of the case
- Your feelings regarding plea bargaining negotiations; and
- Your concerns for safety from the offender
- Keep a written journal. Begin with your activities prior to the crime, and include all contact you make about the crime regardless of how minor they may appear.
Include the following items in your journal:
- Date and time of your conversation
- Everyone who took part in the conversation
- Nature of the conversation (include specific details, especially if any decisions were made)
- Actions to be taken and by whom
- Prepare a Victim Impact Statement for the judge, prosecutor, probation officer and corrections officials.
- If a probation officer is involved in the case, it is also important to keep him/her informed.
Be sure to let the officer know:
- Your address and phone numbers, and any changes
- Your willingness and desire to be involved
- How and when they can contact you
- The details about the case and how the crime has affected you
- Seek professional counseling and/or a local support group if you are having difficulties overcoming the trauma of the crime.
Responding to the media
In some cases, victims may also find themselves facing the attention of the media. Some individuals may experience negative emotional, mental or legal effects when responding to the media. It is important to know that you have rights when you are asked by the media to talk about your experience.
The National Center for Victims of Crime provides the following guidelines for victims who choose to talk with the media.
Victims have the right
- To say “no” to an interview
- To select the spokesperson or advocate of their choice
- To select the time and location for media interviews
- To request a specific reporter
- To refuse an interview with a specific reporter even though they have granted interviews to other reporters
- To say “no” to an interview even though they have previously granted interviews
- To release a written statement through a spokesperson in lieu of an interview
- To exclude children from interviews
- To refrain from answering any questions which are uncomfortable or the victim feels are inappropriate
- To know in advance the direction the story is going to take
- To avoid a press conference atmosphere and speak to only one reporter at a time
- To demand a correction when inaccurate information is reported
- To ask that offensive photographs or visuals be omitted from broadcast or publication
- To conduct a television interview using a silhouette or a newspaper interview without having a photograph taken
- To completely give their side of the story related to the victimization
- To refrain from answering reporters’ questions during the trial
- To file a formal complaint against a journalist
- To grieve in private
- To suggest training about media and victims in their communities
By contract, the following are positive emotional and mental effects some victims have experienced when working with the media:
- Re-telling of the victimization/loss was therapeutic
- Provided a memorial to a loved one
- Avoided all the attention being focused on the perpetrator
- Prevented the perpetrator from gaining notoriety, publicity and justification for the crime
- Allowed victims/survivors an avenue to express their anger
- Helped with the investigative process
- Increased a general understanding of the victim/survivor’s suffering/loss
Always remember that it is the right of the victim/survivor to decide whether or not to work with the media.
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Greenwood, MS – Jadarius Harris, 23 yoa, of Itta Bena was convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Leflore County Circuit Court following his guilty plea on Monday, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today. On July 11, 2020, deputies of the Leflore […]... read more
Chillious Receives a 40 Year Sentence for Sex Crimes Against a Child
Greenville, MS – This week in Circuit Court, Brian Chillious, 45 yoa, pled guilty to a total of forty years with the Mississippi Department of Correction for a series of child sex crimes that took place in Washington County. Chillious […]... read more
Ellison Lafayette Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter
Greenville, MS – With a jury pool drawn from across Washington County and ready to hear his case, Ellison Lafayette, 32 yoa, chose to plead guilty to causing the death of William Taylor, 51 yoa. Circuit Judge Richard Smith accepted […]... read more
BERDELL WILLIS, III SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS
Greenville, MS – Berdell Willis, III, 22 yoa, of Greenville, was sentenced following his May 2022 guilty plea to the charge of Second Degree Murder in the November 2017 murder of Darrell Lafayette, District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today. Two […]... read more
Sex Offender Registry
AG Victim Unit
The mission of the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Circuit Court, under the direction of
W. Dewayne Richardson, is to seek justice in order to maintain an environment of safety, security and lawful behavior for the citizens of the Fourth District.
The Office of the District Attorney uses lawful and reasonable methods to successfully identify and prosecute those who commit felony crimes. When a crime occurs, the Office of the District Attorney diligently pursues the indictment and conviction of those responsible, while adhering to all rights of the Victim, ensuring the victim is being provided all direct services applicable, and acknowledging all constitutional safeguards for the accused.
The District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth
District’s goal is to work with law enforcement and the judiciary to punish those who break our laws with adequate punishment. Every representative of the Office of the District Attorney pledges their commitment and full support to the protection of all citizens within the Fourth Circuit Court District.
P.O. Box 426
Greenville MS 38702
P.O. Box 1046
Indianola, MS 38751
P.O. Box 253
Greenwood, MS 38935
Citizen's Involvement in the criminal justice system typically begins with them being a victim, witness, or defendant of a crime. Arrests are made generally by a judge-issued warrant or by a police officer observing a crime in process. Law enforcement may also arrest someone if it has probable cause to believe the person committed a criminal offense. When individuals are arrested they are routinely advised of their Miranda Rights upon arrest, advising them that they have the right to remain silent and that anything they say will be used against them in court. On being questioned, defendants have the right to have their attorney present or to have one appointed if they are indigent.
Felony defendants appear at a first appearance and have the charges reviewed. A judge will inquire if the defendant has an attorney. If low income, the defendant may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. No plea is entered at this time unless the defendant wishes to plead guilty or waives indictment and has an attorney present. All felony cases are presented to a grand jury in the county that the crime was committed. In the State of Mississippi, only a grand jury has the authority to indict an individual for a felony offense and require them to stand trial for the charges alleged in an affidavit and indictment.
If an indictment is issued, the defendant is bound over to stand trial or enter a guilty plea to the crimes alleged. When a criminal trial occurs all 12 jurors must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentences are decided by Circuit Court Judges in all criminal matters. In most cases a recommendation is made regarding imprisonment, probation, fines and restitution.
Disclaimer of Liability
The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice. With respect to any information found on this web site, neither the Office of the District Attorney, 4th District, nor any of its employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and aptness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the inaccuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information conveyed. Nothing contained in the Web site is intended to constitute a promise, expressed or implied, by the Office of the District Attorney, 4th District to engage in any undertaking. The Washington County District Attorney's Office is not responsible for the contents of any off-site pages referenced. These links are provided as an information service only.
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