Victim Witness Assistance Program
The Knox County District Attorney General’s Office is committed to seeking justice for victims and preventing further victimization. Every crime victim who comes in contact with our office can expect to be treated with dignity and compassion. The prosecution process can be daunting and confusing. We assist victims and witnesses during every court appearance and throughout the entire prosecution process. Crime victims have certain constitutional rights, which are included below. These rights may help crime victims better understand what will happen to their case.
MISSION: To enhance prosecution efforts by delivering the highest quality of services to victims and witnesses. Our efforts will be proactive and our response will be respectful, professional, thorough, and consistent. Serving victims is our highest priority and our most important obligation.
Victim Witness Coordinators are employed by the District Attorney General’s Office to provide information and services to victims and witnesses of crime throughout the prosecution process.
If you have been a victim of crime, you have certain constitutional rights. These rights may help you better understand what will happen to your case.
Rights of Victims of Crimes – Tennessee Constitution Article I, § 35:
To preserve and protect the rights of victims of crime to justice and due process, victims shall be entitled to the following basic rights:
- The right to confer with the prosecution.
- The right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal justice system.
- The right to be present at all proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.
- The right to be heard, when relevant, at all critical stages of the criminal justice process as defined by the General Assembly.
- The right to be informed of all proceedings, and of the release, transfer or escape of the accused or convicted person.
- The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence.
- The right to restitution from the offender.
- The right to be informed of each of the rights established for victims.
The General Assembly has the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to define, implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section.
Most people don’t know what to expect when they go to court for the first time. In an effort to answer some of the commonly asked questions, we have prepared this information. If you have additional questions, please call our Victim/Witness Coordinators prior to your court date.
Do you validate parking?
If you are a victim or a witness for the State who has received a State subpoena or has a scheduled appointment with the District Attorney’s Office, then we will validate your parking if you choose to park in the Dwight Kessel Parking Garage. Please bring your parking ticket with you and present it to your Victim/Witness Coordinator. You will present your parking ticket and a validated ticket from our Office as you exit the parking garage.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
If you are a victim of a crime, one of our lawyers will help you through the criminal justice process. You do not need to hire a private attorney for the criminal proceeding. You may contact us to find out which Assistant District Attorney is handling your case and who your Victim/Witness Coordinator will be.
If you need help with a civil case, then you may require the services of a private attorney. The District Attorney’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice on any civil matters. The Knoxville Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service.
What should I wear?
All individuals entering the courtroom must be dressed appropriately, cleanly, and neatly. Dress that is disturbing and distracting in court is inappropriate. Your clothes and appearance must not disrupt the judicial process. You may also want to bring a light jacket or sweater in the summer months, as the courthouse is air-conditioned.
The Judges enforce a dress code. No shorts, short skirts, halter-tops, tank tops, or torn jeans may be worn in court. Hats and non-prescription dark glasses may not be worn in the courtroom unless you do so for medical or religious reasons.
If you are dressed inappropriately, you may not be allowed into the courtroom.
Bring the proper documentation
Make sure that you have all of your available paperwork, and that it is organized and ready to present. Examples include receipts, letters, bills, phone records, calendars, text messages, and photos. The Assistant District Attorney and Victim/Witness Coordinator handling your case will want to review any paperwork that supports your case. This paperwork may be presented to the Judge as a part of your case.
Don’t miss your court date
On the scheduled day of trial or hearing, you should appear at the time indicated on your subpoena. If you have received a State subpoena, do not miss a court date without being excused by the Court or someone from our Office in advance of your court date. For criminal cases, failing to appear for your court date may result in the Court issuing a capias or warrant for your arrest.
Allow plenty of time to travel to court
If you are driving to court, allow ample time for parking. For those not familiar with downtown, allow an extra 30 minutes of time to park and locate the building. Also, it may take extra time for you to go through City-County Building security and find the correct courtroom.
The City-County Building has metal detectors at its entrances
The purpose of the metal detectors is to provide protection for the public and court personnel. Any object that could be classified as a weapon, including guns, anything sharp, pocketknives, scissors, chains on a wallet, nail files, anything flammable, etc. cannot be brought into the building and will be confiscated by Security until you leave the building. Illegal weapons will be confiscated and not returned. All bags are subject to search.
Go to the correct courtroom
Make sure you know in which court you are supposed to appear. You may also ask your Victim/Witness Coordinator. Once you arrive, you may ask the staff at the information booth or one of the court officers to help you find the correct courtroom. Once in the courtroom, notify your Victim/Witness Coordinator that you are present.
Proper conduct in the courtroom
It is important that everyone be able to hear and see what is happening during court. Therefore, when court is in session, you should refrain from reading, talking, chewing gum, making distracting noises, or any other inappropriate or distracting conduct.
Food and beverages are prohibited in all courtrooms.
Children under 6 are not permitted in the courtroom unless they are part of the case. If you must bring a child to court, it is often best to leave the child outside the courtroom with a responsible adult. If you have child-care issues, please contact your Victim/Witness Coordinator to let them know about the problem. We will try to help you find a solution.
Smoking is not allowed in any public area of the court buildings. There is an area on the 1st floor outdoor balcony where smoking is allowed.
You are not allowed to talk to, or otherwise communicate with, inmates.
All cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off while court is in session. Any device that makes noise during court is subject to confiscation. The Court may choose not to return the device or to charge the owner a fine for disrupting the proceedings. You may not text message or make phone calls in the courtroom.
Do I have to talk to the defense attorney?
It is your decision whether or not to talk to the defense attorney. If you choose to speak with the defense attorney, you may ask your Victim/Witness Coordinator to be present during that conversation.
What should I do during trial or a hearing?
The courtroom is a very traditional and polite place. When speaking to the Judge, you must stand and address him/her as “Your Honor.” Act respectfully, courteously, and politely to everyone in the courthouse.
Do not talk at a trial or hearing unless it is your turn to speak. If it is not your turn to speak, sit quietly in the courtroom. Do not use profanity, argue, or verbally react to statements given in court by the Judge, the defendant, witnesses, or attorneys. Our staff will discuss other courtroom procedures with you prior to your testimony.
If at any point you feel threatened in any way during this process, please tell your Victim/Witness Coordinator right away.
The State of Tennessee has a fund to reimburse innocent victims of violent crimes or their dependents that have suffered out-of-pocket expenses due to physical injuries, loss of income, or death.
- A written claim must be filed within one (1) year after the date of the criminal offense.
- The victim must fully cooperate with the law enforcement officials in their investigation and the prosecution of such crime.
- The victim must report the crime to the proper authorities within 48 hours after it occurred.
- A person may not be eligible for these benefits if that individual contributed to his or her own victimization in anyway, such as participating in the criminal act which led to injury or death.
- This fund does not pay for personal property that was stolen or destroyed by a crime.
- For additional information about filing for victim’s compensation, call the Division of Claims Administration at 615.741.2734, the Victim/Witness Coordinator in the DA’s Office at 865.215.2515, or visit the website of the Tennessee Department of Treasury.
Hope for Victims
Hope for Victims is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization based in Knoxville, TN, that was formed to help families and victims of violent crimes. Their shared grief gives them with a connection to each other that creates a bridge of understanding and compassion. To learn more about their peer support groups and other resources, visit
Knox County Sheriff’s Office
Knoxville Police Department
Special Crimes Unit: knoxvilletn.gov/government/city_departments_offices/police_department/criminal_investigations/special_crimes_unit
Randall E. Nichols Family Justice Center
24-hour Family Violence Helpline: 865.521.6336
YWCA Victim Advocacy Program
Legal Aid of East Tennessee
Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee
24-hour crisis line: 865.522.7273
Childhelp Children’s Center of East Tennessee
Adult Protective Services in Knoxville
Elder Abuse Reporting Number: 865.594.5685
Tennessee Voices for Victims
Tennessee Voices For Victims works on behalf of victims of crime in Tennessee. They are a central agency that enables crime victims across the state to network with one another and journey toward healing. For information, visit
Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference
Tennessee Department of Treasury
Criminal Injuries Compensation
Notification of Offender’s Release
- VINELink: TN SAVIN (Knox County Inmates)
- Tennessee Department of Correction Victim Services Division
- Tennessee Board of Parole Victim Services Division
Toll free: 866.795.7467
Felony Offender Information
Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline
Tennessee Elder Abuse Hotline
National Child Abuse Hotline
• VINELink: TN SAVIN (Knox County Inmates)
• Tennessee Department of Correction Victim Services Division
• Tennessee Board of Parole Victim Services Division
Toll free: 866.795.7467