Strategies Before Filing a Complaint With the Crime Victim Justice Unit.
A difference of opinion or misunderstanding is often resolved by taking the time to talk and listen. Here are some basic steps that can be taken to address problems and concerns with an individual or agency:
Read everything sent to you – Review the documents given or sent to you by police, prosecutors, probation officers, or other court personnel.
Ask questions – If you do not understand why something happened, ask for an explanation. Don’t be afraid to ask about the relevant rules, policies, or laws.
Keep records – Relying on memory is not always the most reliable method of recordkeeping, and it can prove problematic if you want to make a formal complaint about a specific person or agency. Take notes of conversations, ask for the names and titles of people you speak to, and keep all correspondence.
Prepare yourself – Before calling, review any documents and have your questions ready. Be clear ahead of time what you are asking and what you want.
Leaving messages – Remember that people can be busy and may not be able to talk to you right away. Leave a complete message about why you are calling along with contact information. When trying to communicate with the prosecutor’s office, it is often more useful to contact the victim advocate (if there is one) rather than the attorney in charge of the case.
Go through standard complaint procedures – Victims of crime who have complaints always have the option of relying on routine complaint methods. The most common method is to go through the chain of command—ask to speak to the person’s supervisor. In addition, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are required to have a procedure by which citizens can make complaints. In some jurisdictions, that procedure is posted on their websites and/or they may have a standard form already prepared. In other jurisdictions, there is no standard form, and the victim must submit their complaint directly to the chief of police.
Rely on the CVJU and local advocates – Even if you do not wish to file a complaint with the CVJU, the staff is still available to answer questions and provide guidance about how to handle a problem with a criminal justice professional. In addition, the CVJU encourages victims to rely on their local advocates to provide information about the case as well as explanations about the process. If you need a referral to a local victim advocate, call the CVJU office.
Suzanne Elwell, Director, Crime Victim Justice Unit, 651-201-7312, 800-247-0390 x 8, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Kutty, Investigator, Crime Victim Justice Unit, 651-201-7311, 800-247-0390 x 9, email@example.com