Helping Victims

The Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit functions to guide victims through the criminal justice process, to ensure victims’ rights are honored, and to assist victims in obtaining services to help them cope with the trauma they have suffered. Through the efforts of a dedicated team of Victim Advocates, the Victims’ Assistance Unit provides comprehensive services to victims of all types of crime.

Advocates accompany victims to court, provide a supportive ear, and display a calm strength to help victims get through court proceedings that can be frightening and highly emotional. With the help of Victim Advocates, victims can obtain protective court orders. Advocates also assist in processing, filing, and verifying of restitution claims filed with the California Victims of Crime Compensation Program. Skilled in crisis intervention, victim advocates offer an array of referrals to service providers who respond to the individual needs of victims.

Victim advocates also regularly make presentations to community organizations, service clubs, schools, and law enforcement agencies on topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and crimes involving juvenile offenders.

For more information about services available to victims, please call the Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit at (805) 654-3622. For contact information click here.



Notification Rights

Victims of crime, their next of kin, parent or guardian of minor victims, witness, or concerned citizens may request to be notified of the release, death, or escape of a convicted offender.

Requests for notification may be made by completing a “Request for Victim Services” Form (CDCR 1707), which available on the CDCR website below, or by contacting the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283
E-mail: Victimservices@cdcr.ca.gov
Website: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/index.html

Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE)

VINE is an automated service that lets you track the custody status of an adult offender who is in state prison or local jail by visiting www.vinelink.com or calling (877) 411-5588.

Ventura County Jail Inmate Custody Status

Information on custody status is available for inmates who are currently in custody at the Ventura County jail or have been released in the last seven days. For inmate information call the Ventura County jail at (805) 654-3335 or by visiting the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office website: http://www.vcsd.org/inmate-information-booking.php.

For more information about services for victims, please contact us.

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Recover Financial Losses

If you have been a victim of a violent crime, the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB) can help you recover financially. THE VCGCB may pay bills only for expenses due to the crime and that are not covered by insurance or other sources. VCGCB does not pay for lost, damaged, or stolen property or for pain and suffering.

In order for the victim to obtain assistance from this agency, the victim must first file a VCGCB application within one year of the crime. The victim advocate staff of the Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit can help with the application process. Victims may also contact the VCGCB by visiting their web site: http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov/ or by calling (800) 777-9229.

The following losses may be covered by the VCGCB:

  • Medical/dental treatment
  • Mental health counseling
  • Lost income, if the victim is disabled because of the crime
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Emergency relocation
  • Crime scene cleanup, when a homicide happens in someone’s home

The following losses cannot be paid by the VCGCB:

  • Any expenses paid by the victim’s insurance or another source
  • Lost, damaged or stolen property
  • Pain and suffering
  • A person who is on felony probation, on parole, in jail, or in prison cannot be paid by the Program for any expense
Victims Have the Right 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 restitution from the person convicted of the crime for losses they suffered. Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted person in every case in which a crime victim suffers a loss, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, unless compelling and extraordinary reasons exist to the contrary.

The court must award restitution to the victim(s) in the full amount of their economic losses, including but not limited to:

  • Full or partial payment for the value of stolen or damaged property
  • Medical expenses
  • Mental health counseling expenses
  • Wages or profits lost due to injury incurred by the victim and, if the victim is a minor, wages or profits lost by the minor’s parent, parents, guardian or guardians while caring for the injured minor
  • Expenses to install or increase residential security incurred, relating to the crime
  • Actual and reasonable attorney fees and other costs of collection accrued by a private entity on behalf of the victim
  • Expenses to retrofit a residence or vehicle, or both, to make the residence accessible or the vehicle operational by the victim, if the victim is permanently disabled, whether the disability is partial or total, as a direct result of the crime

The Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit can help victims obtain restitution orders for their financial losses. For more information about services for victims, please contact us.

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Remembering Ellie Liston

Ellie retired on October 1, 1999, as a Senior Victim Advocate for the District Attorney’s Office and, soon thereafter, on January 4, 2000, lost her courageous battle with cancer.

Ellie’s legacy is the success and strength of today’s Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit. She provided the foundation upon which it was built and for 19 years nurtured its growth while fighting for victims’ rights at home and throughout the state. She championed the cause and will forever be remembered by crime victims, prosecutors, members of the law enforcement community and the court system, coworkers, and everyone whose lives she has touched.

Photo of Ellie Liston

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Services Provided to Victims

The Crime Victims’ Assistance Unit was established for the purpose of reducing the trauma and insensitive treatment that victims may experience in the wake of a crime. Victim advocates provide comprehensive services to victims, including the following:

  • Timely responses to the individual needs of victims
  • Assistance with gaining emergency access to food, shelter and clothing
  • Counseling referrals to agencies which are appropriate to meet the victims’ needs
  • Assistance in filing claims for benefits through the California Victim Compensation Program
  • Assistance in obtaining victims’ property being held by law enforcement agencies
  • Orientation to the criminal justice system
  • Escorting victims to and from court
  • Keeping victims apprised of the case progress and outcome by monitoring court events
  • Assistance with ascertaining victims’ financial losses and obtaining restitution for victims
  • Providing information about victims’ losses to the Probation Agency and prosecutors prior to the sentencing court hearing
  • Assistance in obtaining Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Restraining Orders

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Summary of Victims’ Rights

The California Victims’ Bill of Rights, also known as Marsy’s Law, was enacted by voters on November 4, 2008. This measure amended the California Constitution to provide additional rights to victims. (Cal. Const., Article 1, section 28 (a)-(e).) The Victims’ Bill of Rights provides crime victims with the following rights, as summarized below:

  • 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 an informed before any pretrial disposition of the cease.
  • 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 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 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.
    • If 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.

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Rights for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic violence is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • A cohabitant or former cohabitant
  • A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship
  • A person with whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent under the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with section 7600) of Division 12)
  • A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected
  • Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree

Abuse means any of the following:

  • Intentionally or recklessly to cause or attempt to cause bodily injury
  • Sexual assault
  • To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another
  • To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Family Code section 6320

Laws specifically governing domestic violence provide the following rights:

  • Expanded definitions of domestic violence to protect former spouses and cohabitants
  • Authorization of law enforcement to take temporary custody of any firearm at the scene of domestic violence
  • The right to have law enforcement agencies prepare written reports for all domestic violence calls
  • The right to have law enforcement serve the offender with a restraining order at the scene of a domestic violence incident or anytime the offender is in custody
  • Address confidentiality for victims of domestic violence and stalking programs (administered by the Secretary of State’s office)
  • Right to have a support person in court throughout appearance including mediation
  • Right to have a domestic violence counselor and support person present at interviews with law enforcement, prosecutors, or defense attorneys
  • Right to be heard at bail reduction hearings
  • Prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against a victim of domestic violence who takes time off to appear in court, attend counseling, make shelter arrangements, or undertake procedures for his or her safety
  • Prohibits an inmate convicted of stalking to be released within 35 miles of the victim’s residence or place of employment
  • Right to learn the current custody status of defendants prior to conviction
  • Right to notification of release or escape from prison/jail after conviction, upon request
  • Requires a legal presumption that giving custody to a perpetrator of domestic violence is detrimental to a child

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Rights for Sexual Assault Victims

It is important to know and understand that any sexual assault is a crime. Sexual assault by a person who is known to the victim as an acquaintance, date, friend, spouse or family member are all crimes and should be reported immediately to law enforcement. Sexual assault victims should immediately notify law enforcement of potential crimes and advise if they are injured or in need of medical treatment.

Laws specifically governing sexual assault provide the following rights to victims:

  • Right to ask questions of the police, nurses and attorneys
  • Right to be treated with respect
  • Right to have a victim advocate present for any contacts related to the case
  • Right of a sexual assault victim not to be charged for the cost of medical examination for the purpose of gathering evidence
  • Requirement of hospitals to use proper rape investigation protocols when examining sexual assault victims
  • Right to free pregnancy and venereal disease test for sexual assault victims at county hospitals
  • Right to receive victim assistance information regarding state compensation to sexual assault victims at county hospitals
  • Right to have crisis center notified before medical examination
  • Right to have sexual assault victim counselor and support person present during examination
  • Right to have a victim advocate accompany the victim to the witness stand during court hearings
  • Right to be anonymous throughout the court proceedings
  • Prohibits law enforcement from disclosing sexual assault victim’s name and address
  • Right to learn custody status of the defendant prior to conviction
  • Right to notification of release or escape from prison or jail after conviction, upon request

For contact information click here.

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Victim Services Volunteer Program

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office provides services to thousands of victims every year and seeks qualified volunteers to make an important contribution to public safety and crime victims in Ventura County. Volunteer staff complete an initial 48 hours of training, which prepares them to assist victims with certain services, including obtaining a restraining order, emergency shelter placement, and court accompaniment. Volunteer training includes the following subject areas.

For more information click here.

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