Victim Assistance

In 1982, Californians passed Proposition 8, the Victims’ Bill of Rights, which established rights for California crime victims and incorporated them in the California Constitution. These rights and other California statutes gave victims of both juvenile and adult offenders a voice in the criminal justice system and a right to recover losses through restitution.

Rights of Victims of Crime

Resources for All Victims of Crime

Resources for Victims of Juvenile Crime

Cases on Appeal and Capital Crime Victim Resources

Restitution and Victim Compensation

Restorative Justice

Forms -- Restitution


Rights of Victims of Crime

Restitution

The California Constitution requires that the court order a convicted person to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is money paid by the offender to the victim to cover financial losses. Such financial losses include the value of any stolen property, medical expenses, and wages or profits lost by the victim or by the parents or guardians of a victim who is a minor.

At the time the convicted person is sentenced (for a juvenile this is during the dispositional hearing), the judge will order him or her to pay you (the victim) for losses caused by the crime. You are allowed to ask for interest at the rate of 10 percent per year. The parents of a juvenile offender are legally responsible for the restitution to the victim. (See California Welfare and Institutions Code section 730.6 and section 730.7 and Penal Code section 1202.4 for more information.)

There is also a state-managed victim restitution fund, the California Victim Compensation Program, to assist victims of crime. The money in the fund comes from persons convicted of crimes. To receive payment from the fund, you must apply within 1 year of the crime (minors can apply within a year after they turn 18). You must also cooperate with law enforcement agencies and provide written proof of your losses and expenses.

For more information, read Information on Crime Victim's Compensation.
Also contact the crime victim/witness assistance center in your county.

There are court forms and instructions that can help if you decide to file (ask) for an order for restitution:

You can also find out if the defendant has assets so you can collect restitution. You can ask the judge to order the defendant to fill out a Defendant's Statement of Assets (Form CR-115). If you are the defendant, you can find out how to fill out Form CR-115 by reading Instructions: Defendant’s Statement of Assets (Form CR-117).

Get information

If you are a victim of a crime, and you believe that a juvenile committed the crime, contact the crime victim/witness assistance center in your county to find out the best place to get information in your county or call 1-800-VICTIMS (1-800-842-8467). Many counties have a victim witness department. The juvenile probation department or the District Attorney’s Office also can provide information. Victims have the right to be notified of all juvenile court hearings and the right to attend and express their views about the disposition of the case.

If there is a court hearing and you do not want to or are unable to go to the hearings, you can still find out about the final disposition of the case, including the restitution order. Ask the county’s probation department to let you know. They should let you know by letter within 60 days of the case’s final disposition.

Attend court hearings

As a victim you are entitled to attend the juvenile court hearings that deal with your case, and you should receive notice of the hearings. Inform the county’s probation department that you want to attend. Victims are allowed to bring up to 2 support people. But any party to the case, including the offender, can prohibit the victim and the support people from attending. If you are excluded from the hearing, you can still express your views, in a reasonable way, by submitting a victim impact statement. (See California Welfare and Institution Code section 656.2 and section 676.5 and rule 5.530(e)(2) of the California Rules of Court for more information.)

At the dispositional hearing, if the judge rules that the youth committed the offense, the judge will impose sanctions on him or her. Sanctions may include the following:

  • Restitution to you;
  • Payment of a fine by the youth (funds will go to the state victim restitution fund);
  • Community service performed by the youth for the benefit of the community;
  • Limitations on the youth's liberty imposed as a condition of probation or parole (this may include probation with formal supervision or placement outside the youth's home);
  • Commitment of the youth to a local detention or treatment facility, such as a juvenile hall, camp, or ranch;
  • Commitment of the youth to Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Let the offender know how the crime affected you

Many counties have programs that give you the opportunity to tell the offender how the crime affected you. You can do this by writing a statement that you or an advocate can read in court or the probation officer can forward to the offender.

Another possibility is a facilitated dialogue with the offender, such as supervised victim-offender mediation. The choice to participate is entirely up to you.

Protect Yourself From the Offender

If you are afraid of the offender and are worried about your safety once the offender is released from custody, the court may issue "no contact" orders or restraining orders preventing the offender from having contact with you. And, you may be able to get a restraining order through a civil proceeding. Click for more information on getting a restraining order through the civil courts.

Other Victims' Rights

It is against the law for your address or telephone number to be given to the offender. (See California Penal Code section 841.5.)

California Welfare and Institutions Code section 742(b) states that victims of juvenile offenders must be informed of any victim-offender conferencing program or victim impact class available in the county. Victim impact classes give victims an opportunity to express, when they are ready, how the crime affected their lives to a small group of offenders. The youth responsible for the offense in which you were involved will not be in the class.

Resources for All Victims of Crime

Many services available to crime victims apply to victims of either adult or juvenile offenders. Included below is an overview of constitutional provisions and state laws covering crime victims’ rights from the California Office of the Attorney General and other information and resources for all crime victims. Also included are specific resources for victims of juvenile crime.

Restitution Basics for Victims of Crimes by Adults (2012)
This booklet will help you understand your right to restitution, how to ask for restitution, what to expect in the criminal case process, and how to collect the money you are owed. From the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California.

Restitution Basics for Victims of Offenses by Juveniles (2012)
If you have been a victim of an offense committed by a juvenile, this booklet will help you understand your right to restitution, what to expect as the juvenile case moves forward, special rules in juvenile cases, and how to collect the money you are owed. From the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California.

California's Criminal Justice System: A Primer (Jan. 2007)
Describes the role of victims in the justice system, includes crime statistics based on victim surveys, and asks, “Who are the victims?” This document provides basic information rather than listing specific resources for victims. From the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
This site provides valuable information for all crime victims and a special section for victims of juvenile offenders.
It also provides links to local victim witness assistance programs and information about restitution, special conditions of parole notification, resources, training opportunities, links to the law, and the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Most of the information is also available in Spanish.

Victim Witness Assistance Centers
These centers can help crime victims apply for compensation for losses due to medical, funeral, and burial expenses; loss of income or support; and job retraining. If you cannot find a center in your county, check the white pages of your telephone book under “County Government” and look for “Victim Services” and “Victim Witness Assistance,” or call, toll-free, 1-800-256-6877.

National Center for Victims of Crime
The National Center for Victims of Crime is a resource and advocacy organization for crime victims. Its mission is to forge a national commitment to help victims of crime rebuild their lives, and it is dedicated to serving individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime.

National Center for State Courts
This site provides a subtopic in its "CourTopics" library on victims that is regularly updated with new publications and resources.

National Organization for Victim Assistance
The National Organization for Victim Assistance is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization of victim and witness assistance programs and practitioners, criminal justice agencies and professionals, mental health professionals, researchers, former victims and survivors, and others committed to the recognition and implementation of victim rights and services.

Office for Victims of Crime
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) oversees diverse programs that benefit victims of crime. The site includes a specific section on Help for Crime Victims. It is provided by the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Other information from this site includes:

  • Directory of Crime Victim Services
    An OVC online resource designed to help service providers and individuals locate nonemergency crime victim services in the United States and abroad. You may search by location, type of victimization, service needed, or agency type.
  • OVC sponsors an annual event to commemorate National Crime Victims Rights Week (NCVRW).
  • OVC Fact Sheet: What You Can Do If You Are a Victim of Crime
    A publication that explains your rights as a victim of crime and how to get help.
  • OVC Fact Sheet: The Justice for All Act
    The Justice for All Act of 2004 was enacted to protect crime victims' rights, eliminate the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders, and improve and expand the DNA-testing capacity of federal, state, and local crime laboratories. This section also provides many other sources of information for victim assistance.
  • OVC Help Series Brochures: Resources for Victims in Crisis
    The OVC Help Series (BC 000669) is a set of 10 brochures that address 8 categories of crime victimization: assault, child abuse, domestic violence, drunk driving, homicide, robbery, sexual assault, and stalking. Each brochure includes an overview of general crime facts, a description of what victims may experience, and suggestions for how to seek help. The brochures are intended to supplement the information victim service providers can offer and to give victims a resource they can easily refer to in a crisis. Also available in other languages.
  • Other OVC Publications and Fact Sheets

Victims’ Services Unit: Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice
The Victims’ Services Unit’s site focuses on its mission to improve the coordination of assistance and outreach programs for crime victims and offers many resources and information. The site also provides a helpful guidebook with information on victims’ rights and resources: Helping Crime Victims Get the Services They Need.

Overview of Victims' Rights and Victim's Bill of Rights
An overview of rights under the California Constitution and statutory laws from the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General.

What Should I Do if I'm a Crime Victim?
A State Bar of California pamphlet containing questions and answers for crime victims. It also includes a checklist for what to do if you are a crime victim.

Resources for Victims of Juvenile Crime

Your Rights and Role in the Juvenile Court Process: Information for Victims
As a victim of a crime, you have rights. You have a right to information and a right to participate in the court process. This pamphlet explains these rights, particularly as they apply to cases in the juvenile court system.

Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS), Juvenile Services Unit
The Juvenile Services Unit of OVSRS administers delinquency prevention and victim services for California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). This site, part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, identifies what services are available to victims of juvenile crime and provides many other resources.

Teen Victim Project
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the National Center for Victims of Crime collaborate to form a national network of service providers to meet the needs of young people victimized by crime. This site launches the Teen Victim Project, a project to raise national awareness about the incidence and impact of crimes against teenagers and to help those who have been victimized. It includes several publications, and currently features a Webinar Series.

Our Vulnerable Teenagers: Their Victimization, Its Consequences, and Directions for Prevention and Intervention
The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) jointly prepared this report on the issue of teen victimization, which helped launched the Teen Victim Project. Though it does not provide direct assistance to teenage victims, it does raise national awareness about the incidence and effect of crimes against teenagers and provides suggestions for model practices and programs to help those who have been victimized and to prevent future victimization.

Cases on Appeal and Capital Crime Victim Resources

Marsy’s Law: Criminal Appeal Victim Notification
The Victims’ Services Unit provides information on cases that are already past the lower courts’ decision process. Victims have the right to learn about the status and progress of criminal appeals of their case by filling out a Request for Criminal Appeal Status form. Brochures and other information include:

  • Appeals & Victims' Rights: This brochure provides information on the rights of victims in cases on appeal that do not involve the death penalty. (En español)
  • Confidential Victim's Next-Of-Kin Declaration: A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation form to appear at an offender’s hearing for a deceased victim.
  • Execution & Clemency in California
    This brochure provides an overview for victims and explains their ability to participate in clemency hearings and executions in California.
  • A Victim's Guide to the Capital Case Process
    Provides crime victims and the general public with a comprehensive guide to the death penalty appellate process. This guide, developed by the Office of Victims' Services (now the Victims’ Services Unit), seeks to clearly explain the capital appeals process from the original trial to execution. In California, death penalty appeals may take between 12 and 20 years to reach resolution because of constitutional safeguards guaranteed each inmate. These delays often cause frustration for surviving victims and their families.

 

Restitution and Victim Compensation

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services
This site offers the following information on restitution and fines and other useful information:

Types of Restitution:
  • Restitution Fines
  • Direct Orders
  • Other Information on Restitution:
  • Requests for collections
  • Types of restitution collected
  • Adult offender restitution responsibilities
  • Juvenile offender restitution information
  • Parolee payment instruction
  • Legislation
  • California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB)
    The VCGCB administers the Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) and the Government Claims Program (GCP). CalVCP helps victims of violent crime and their families deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of crime. The site allows victims to apply for compensation and includes the necessary forms in English or Spanish. It also includes current legislation, statutes, and regulations that apply to compensation. Contact number for the Victim Compensation program: 1-800-777-9229.

    Information on Crime Victims' Compensation
    This brochure explains how victims of crime can be compensated for financial, emotional, and physical losses. Created by the Judicial Council of California.

    National Crime Victim Bar Association (NCVBA): Helping Crime Victims Pursue Civil Justice
    The NCVBA provides technical support to lawyers representing crime victims in civil actions, refers crime victims to lawyers in their local area, and works to increase general awareness about the availability of civil remedies for victims of crime. The section for victims includes Civil Justice for Victims of Crime, an easy-to-read booklet designed to give crime victims and those who work with victims a basic understanding of the civil justice system and to make them aware of the civil justice option.

    Restorative Justice

    California Community Justice Project
    The mission of the California Community Justice Project is to enhance awareness and understanding of community justice principles and practices, facilitate information sharing between existing community justice programs and start-up programs, and facilitate the development of local practices consistent with community justice principles. This site from the Judicial Council of California includes resources, promising and model practices, and other helpful information.

    Balanced and Restorative Justice: An Informational Manual for California
    This manual catalogs balanced and restorative justice practices and model programs being used in California and around the country. It provides contact information for practitioners and descriptions of practices being followed in local communities. The manual is a resource for the courts, and it encourages judges and community stakeholders to develop collaborative partnerships that can improve outcomes for youth, victims, and communities affected by crime. The manual is approximately 90 pages, so if you would prefer to print only a particular section, please use the table of contents to find and print only the area in which you are interested.

    Restorative Conferencing: California Community Justice Project
    This pamphlet describes restorative conferencing and provides examples of practices that use restorative principles.

    A Summary of the Evaluations of Six Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs (VORP)
    This report from May 2000 reviews 6 programs in California. It includes contact information for programs throughout California and resources such as publications, videos, organizations, and training programs.

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