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Victim/Witness Assistance Program

June 20, 2018

From the website of the Contra Costa Attorney General

While victims’ rights and issues have come a long way from the 1930s and its origin as an outgrowth of the civil rights and women’s movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, the balance of justice is still weighted towards the defendant and much work is left to be done. Today, 33 states have passed Constitutional Amendments establishing a Victims’ Bill of Rights, including California.

Forming the Current Program

In 1983, legislation was passed (13835.5 PC) “to develop methods to reduce the trauma and insensitive treatment that victims and witnesses may experience in the wake of crime, since all to often citizens who become involved with the criminal justice system, either as victims or witnesses to crime, are further victimized by that system.”

Program Funding

Funding for the Victim/Witness program comes entirely through fines and penalties levied against defendants.

Victims of Crime & Families of Homicide Victims Have the Right to:

  • Know the current status of your court case
  • Be assisted if called as a witness
  • Attend all sentencing proceedings
  • Speak in person, address the court in writing, or be represented by an attorney at the time of felony sentencing to express your views concerning the defendant, the crime, and its effects on you and your family
  • Have the court order restitution from the convicted person
  • Request the Board of Prison Terms to provide notice of any hearing to review or consider parole eligibility or parole-setting for prisoners in your case (you must keep the Board of Prison Terms informed of your current address if you wish to be notified)
  • Speak personally, submit a letter, tape recording or video tape, or send an attorney to the parole hearing to express your views about the crime and the person responsible

Services Provided

  • Provide victims and witnesses of crime information concerning the criminal justice system
  • Assist victims with the filing of Victim of Crime Compensation Program applications
  • Provide victims and witnesses with case status and/or disposition
  • Provide victims with information concerning victim impact statements
  • Provide victims with assistance in restitution determination and collection
  • Provide victims and witnesses with court support
  • Provide victims and witnesses with referrals to community agencies
  • Provide victims with referrals for counseling and therapy
  • Provide victims with creditor and/or employer intervention
  • Provide witnesses with employer intervention Assist victims with property return
  • Provide victims with information to apply for state disability insurance
  • Provide victims with information to apply for social security benefits
  • Provide victims with information to file notification forms with Department of Corrections, California Youth Authority, and Attorney General
  • Provide victims with information concerning victim’s rights at parole hearings
  • At the request of the assigned district attorney, the advocate can arrange and attend a meeting between the district attorney and the victim or victim’s family
  • Assist the probation officer to obtain information concerning restitution and victim impact statements for their reports on serious violent felony cases



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