When an older adult has to go to court after her identity has been stolen
How to Deal With Caregiver Theft: Page 2
The most daunting aspect for many victims is the prospect of having to tell their story in court. But Connors says that while this indeed can be scary, it can also be an empowering experience. "They get to come into a safe environment where they're believed."
In nearly all cases -- 90 to 95 percent -- the victim can avoid going to court altogether, as these cases end in a guilty plea. Very few criminal cases actually go to a jury trial. If your friend or relative's is the rare case that does go to trial, she'll have to testify about her loss in court, and about whom she believes committed the crime. This is the only time an older victim will have to appear to court.
Connors says many older adults are worried that they'll forget dates and details and become flustered while testifying. Most prosecutors will lead the victim through the process beforehand, so they know what to expect. Additionally, the victim can read her earlier statement to police and refresh her memory about details that may have later become confused.
Victims, of course, can attend other hearings, and if the person charged with the crime pleads guilty or is found guilty, the victim may be asked if she wants to participate in the sentencing phase. Often, she will have already been contacted by the county probation department, which draws up a report about the crime and its impact on the victim, and then makes sentencing recommendations to the court. At the time of sentencing, the victim can attend the court hearing and tell the court how the crime affected her. Many older victims choose to read a letter they had written to the court or have the prosecutor read the letter for them.