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Victim-Witness Assistance Program

How to get help [ TOP ]

If you have been a victim of crime of violence and need assistance, the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program will help.  A victim services representative help determine how to best assist you.  The program’s toll free number is (800) 380-3811.  Program services are provided free of charge and there is no legal residency or citizenship requirement. 

The program also receives case referrals from law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, the coroner’s office, mortuaries, hospitals and social service agencies.  When a referral is made, the victim and/or the victim’s family is contacted and an assessment of emergency and long-term needs is conducted.  To refer a victim for services, call toll free (800) 380-3811. 

Representatives may be available to assist victims in several languages, especially Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Tagalog and Armenian.

The Victim-Witness Assistance Program can provide speakers for community groups interested in information about the program or about the rights and responsibilities of victims and witnesses.

Victims' Rights in California [ TOP ]

Victims of crime have several constitutional and statutory rights.  A “victim” is any person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological or financial harm as a direct result of a crime.  “Victim” also refers to the actual victim’s family and next of kin.  Among the rights that victims have are:

  • To be treated with fairness and dignity
  • To be reasonably protected from the defendant
  • To prevent disclosure of confidential information
  • To know the current status of your court case
  • To be assisted if called as a witness
  • To attend all court proceedings
  • To make a victim impact statement at sentencing
  • To have the court order restitution for your crime related losses
  • To be informed of all parole proceedings

For more information on victims’ rights, see

Victim-Witness Assistance Program Services Available [ TOP ]

Penal Code Section 13835.5 authorizes the following services to be provided:

 Mandatory Services

  • Crisis Intervention

  • Emergency Assistance

  • Counseling Resource and Referral

  • Assistance in Filing a California Victim Compensation claim (see below)

  • Assistance in getting the victim’s property returned

  • Orientation to the Criminal Justice System

  • Court Escort and Support

  • Case Status or Disposition Information

  • Notification to Family and Friends

  • Notification to Employer

  • Restitution Assistance

Optional Services

  • Creditor Intervention

  • Child Care Assistance

  • Witness Notification

  • Funeral Arrangement Assistance

  • Crime Prevention Information

  • Witness Protection Assistance

  • Temporary Restraining Order Information

  • Transportation Assistance

  • Employer Intervention

California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) [ TOP ]

Under California law (Government Code sections 13950-13966), victims may receive financial assistance for losses resulting from qualifying crimes such as:

  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Medical, Dental and Hospital Expenses
  • Loss of Wages or Support
  • Funeral and Burial Costs
  • Job Retraining and Rehabilitation
  • Crime Scene Clean Up

Who is Eligible:

  • Victims who suffer physical and/or emotional injury or a survivor of a person who dies as a direct result of the crime are eligible to apply whether or not a suspect is identified or a criminal case is filed.
  • Family members or cohabitants of the victim, including those legally dependent on the victim for support
  • Anyone who was present during the crime and who has a close relationship with the victim
  • Anyone who must receive psychological treatment as a result of the crime
  • Anyone who pays the funeral or burial expenses of a deceased victim

Requirements:

  • The crime must be reported to law enforcement. 
  • An application must be filed within three years of the crime, although there are some limited exceptions to this rule. 
  • Victims must not have participated in the crime, be in custody, or be on felony probation or parole. 
  • Victims must cooperate with law enforcement and the prosecution. 
  • Losses must be crime related and do no include property damage or loss, or “pain and suffering.” 
  • Other sources of reimbursement, such as insurance, must be used first. 
  • Maximum reimbursements per victim can not exceed $63,000. 

How to apply:

The Victim-Witness Assistance Program and victim services representatives are available in courthouses and police stations to assist crime victims apply for this program.  There is no fee for this service. 

The District Attorney’s Claims Verification Program has a joint contract with the California Victim Compensation Program to verify and process Victim Compensation claims locally.  For more information, call toll free (800) 492-5944.

For more information on the California Victim Compensation Program, call toll free (800) 777-9229.  You may also access program information on the Internet at  www.vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/ or at P.O. Box 3036, Sacramento, CA  95812-3036.

Special Advocacy Programs [ TOP ]

  • Special Emphasis Program
    (213) 974-3906 & (310) 603-7127

The Special Emphasis Program receives special funds to assist victims of gang violence in areas most impacted by these crimes.  The Program provides specialized, bilingual and bicultural assistance to underserved victims of gang violence.

  • Other Specialized Units

In addition to providing comprehensive assistance to all victims of crime, the program has assigned staff to work in specialized prosecutorial units in order to concentrate on the special needs of these specific victim populations:

  • Elder Abuse Division (213) 580-8742

  • Family Violence Division (213) 974-7410

  • Realignment Victims Services Program (213) 893-7899

  • Sex Crimes Division  (213) 974-3801

Special Events [ TOP ]

Victims' Rights Week

National Victims’ Rights Week is observed every April, with special activities organized by the Victim-Witness Assistance Program.  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors presents a scroll to the District Attorney recognizing the Victim-Witness Assistance Program’s work in assisting victims.  The program sponsors a Victims’ Rights Symposium to bring attention to laws and services available to assist victims.  Special awards are given to individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding services to victims and witnesses of crime in Los Angeles County.  Program volunteers are also recognized for their great contributions.

During Victims’ Rights Week, Victim-Witness Assistance Program staff members also organize events at their local victim centers to draw attention to the plight of victims and the services that are available to them.

Elder Abuse Symposium

Every fall, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program sponsors an Elder Abuse Symposium to bring attention to crimes against the elderly victims and victims with disabilities.

Holiday Giving Drive

Each holiday season, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program in partnership with the Bureau of Communications and the Bureau of Investigation spearheads the District Attorney’s Annual Holiday Giving Drive.  District Attorney personnel nominate victims, many of whom are children, and their families that have been severely impacted by crime.  District Attorney personnel donate money and many corporations also donate toys, food and gift cards for this event.  This office-wide effort provides gifts for crime victims and their families throughout the county.  Deliveries are then coordinated with the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation to arrive during the holiday season.

Volunteer Opportunities [ TOP ]

Volunteers play an integral role in providing services to victims.  Volunteers work side by side with victim services representatives to provide advocacy, court support and resource referrals to victims.  Volunteers are also expected to assist with clerical duties.  Volunteers must be available to work a minimum of 16 hours per week during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. Volunteers must turn in an application, submit to and pass a background check. For eligible volunteer applicants the $32 fee for a background check will be paid by the program. Volunteers must complete a training program. Every effort is made to place volunteers in desired geographic or special interest areas.

For more information, call the Victim-Witness Assistance Program’s Volunteer Coordinator toll free at (800) 380-3811. If you would like to apply to volunteer, an information packet will be sent to you. Applicants will be scheduled for an interview and background check.  Those selected will then be enrolled in the training program. After completing the training program, volunteers will receive an office assignment and on-the-job orientation at the work site.


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