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Public Safety: In Pursuit of Justice for All

By Rachel Ashe

As Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Domestic Violence Unit, I am inspired by Lady Justice. She is one of the most compelling symbols of our criminal justice system. With her blindfold, sword, and scale, she exemplifies the idea that justice should be applied objectively, without regard to status, race, wealth, or gender.

Impartiality and fairness in the pursuit of justice benefit both the accused and the victim of crime. Even so, what seems fair to one person may not seem fair to the other.

When crimes occur, the role of a prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law. Prosecutors like myself ultimately bear the burden of moving forward with charges, making plea recommendations, and presenting cases to either a judge or jury, while representing the State and the citizens of our county. It is a heavy burden.

True justice is often complicated. Much like the scales that Lady Justice carries, prosecutors balance many factors when seeking justice. The decisions we make impact families, offenders, victims, witnesses, and our community as a whole.

Each year, the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes thousands of felony cases. In 2022, our office provided support and guidance to more than 4,000 crime victims. These victims were impacted by crimes ranging from theft and assault to child molestation and homicide.

In every case, our office works to ensure that crime victims know they have a voice in the process, and their rights will be upheld. These rights include notification of case status, education about the criminal justice system, accompaniment and support during criminal proceedings, referrals to resources, and assistance in filing for victim related compensation.

One of the greatest challenges for a prosecutor is speaking for victims when they are not ready or able to speak for themselves. In our Domestic Violence Unit, we often encounter individuals who still love their abuser. In these situations, those who are victimized see justice differently than the prosecutor does; they may even feel that fair justice would mean dismissing charges and letting their loved one come home.

Fortunately, our community realizes that to keep vulnerable victims safe, the abuser must be held accountable — even if the victim does not agree.

Holding offenders accountable and seeking justice for victims does not begin or end with the prosecutor. True justice means working together with law enforcement, advocacy organizations, and the community to seek just results to keep victims and our county safe.

Victims have rights, a voice, and support and services in the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office. We hope you never find yourself in need of crime victim services. But if you do, we are here to help guide you and protect your rights.

A complete listing of rights you have as a victim of crime in Georgia can be found in § O.C.G.A. 17-17-1.