Once convicted, the defendant is required to be sentenced. Sentencing the defendant is the responsibility of a judge. A judge has many alternatives in determining a just and proper sentence, according to statutory guidelines. The judge will ask the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney for recommendations, but the judge alone decides the final sentence. Many times in very serious cases, the judge will order the probation department to prepare a report known as a pre-sentence investigation report. This report is used to provide background about the defendant. The probation officer will contact the victim in the case to gather information for the report.
The State's Attorney's Office has a staff person called the Victim/Witness Assistant. This person's job is to notify victims and witnesses about the progress of the case in which they are involved. The Victim/Witness Assistant is also available to answer questions and assist victims and witnesses in understanding the many phases of a criminal case.