Victims' Bill of Rights
Under state laws, victims and witnesses of crime have specific rights under the "Victims' Bill of Rights".
Here is an overview of these constitutional and statutory rights.
Right to Keep Address Confidential
In cases of child abuse, spousal abuse and sex crimes, and victims have a right to have their addresses kept confidential. Their addresses may be given only to the attorney for the defendant, but will not appear on any forms or public documents.
Right Not to Be Threatened or Intimidated
If anyone threatens you, call your law enforcement agency to report the threat and contact the prosecutor immediately. It is a crime for anyone to attempt to dissuade or prevent you from assisting law enforcement agencies or prosecutors or from attending or giving testimony at any trial or proceeding authorized by law. It is a felony if any such efforts involve coercion, threats or force, or are done for financial gain.
Right to Be Present at Sentencing and Parole Hearings
Crime victims are entitled to appear at the sentencing hearing and to speak on matters concerning the crime, the penalty and the need for restitution. You do not need to be present at the sentencing proceeding, but you have a right to attend if you wish and to reasonably express your views. The law requires that the county probation department notify you of the sentencing hearing for felony cases. Practically speaking, you will want to contact the prosecuting district attorney to let him or her know of your wish to speak at the sentencing hearing. You have a right to be informed of the sentence recommended by the probation officer to the court, but you may not view the actual probation report prior to sentencing. However, state law (Penal Code section 1203.05(a)) permits you to inspect the probation report within 60 days after the judgment is pronounced. You may want to write out a statement that you can read at the hearing or submit it in writing. You also may want to consider submitting a video tape. Those who have spoken at such hearings say they were given a restored sense of control and appreciated the active role in the criminal justice system.
Right to Be Informed of the Sentence Recommended by the Probation Officer
Victims have a right to make a statement at parole hearings. Parole hearings are held for prisoners serving an indeterminate term such as 15 years to life. . You may want to write out a statement that you can read at the hearing or submit it in writing. You also may want to consider submitting a video tape. Those who have spoken at such hearings say they were given a restored sense of control and appreciated the active role in the criminal justice system. To request notice of parole hearings and opportunity to speak, write to:
- Board of Prison Terms Victims' Assistance Program
428 J Street, Sixth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 327-5933
If the offender was sentenced by the California Youth Authority, send your written request to:
- California Youth Authority Office of Prevention and Victims' Services
4241 Williamsborough Drive Sacramento, CA 95823 (916) 262-1392
Right to Restitution and Return of Property
Victims have a right to restitution from the person who is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony where the victim suffered economic loss a result of the offender's conduct. The prosecuting attorney has an opportunity to assist in these assessments. The requirements are specified in Penal Code section 1202.4(b). If seeking the return of property, you may want to contact your local victim/witness assistance center for help in determining if your property can be returned to you. In some cases, it may take a while to have the property returned because they may be needed as evidence in court.
For Information on Victim/witness Services, Contact
Yolo County District Attorney's Victim Services Program
State of California Attorney General Office of Victim's Services
Attorney General's Resource Page
On November 4, 2008, the people of the State of California approved Proposition 9, the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 known as Marsy’s Law, a measure that amended the California Constitution to include a Bill of Rights for crime victims in California. The purpose of this constitutional amendment is to provide all victims with rights to justice and due process.
A “victim” is a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act.
In order to preserve and protect a victim’s rights to justice and due process, a victim shall be entitled to the following rights:
- To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
- To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
- To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
- To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
- To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
- To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
- To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
- To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
- To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
- To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
- To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
- To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
- To restitution
- It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes for causing the losses they suffer.
- Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss.
- All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.
- To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.
- To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.
- To have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.
- To be informed of the rights enumerated in paragraphs 1 through 16.
A victim, the retained attorney of a victim, a lawful representative of the victim, or the prosecuting attorney upon request of the victim, may enforce the above rights in any trial or appellate court with jurisdiction over the case as a matter of right. The court shall act promptly on such a request.