In California, victims of crime have rights that are protected by the California Constitution and by California laws.
Victim Rights, also known as Marsy’s Rights
A ‘victim’ is defined under the California Constitution as, “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. The term ‘victim’ also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated."
As a California crime victim, you have a right to:
- Be informed about the criminal justice process;
- Be notified and informed of pending felony pretrial/trial dispositions;
- Be heard by the court* at sentencing/disposition/parole eligibility hearings;
- The return of property when it is no longer needed as evidence;
- Be notified if your presence in court is not needed;
- Be informed about available civil remedies, financial assistance, and social services;
- Be compensated for your loss whenever possible;
- Be provided with a secure waiting area during court proceedings; and
- Have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized.
Adapted from the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights
Click the link below to view
Marsy’s Story Link https://www.marsyslaw.us/marsys_story
Marsy's Law text adopted on November 5, 2008
*Victims' Rights and court statements
Under California law, persons who meet the definition of "victim" have a right to attend sentencing hearings and make an “impact statement” to the court. For more information about Victim Impact Statements, please contact the Victim Witness office at 805-781-5821.
Impact Statement Tips
- This is your opportunity to tell the court, and the defendant, how the crime impacted your life and the lives of your family members in your own words. Simple, direct statements are usually most effective.
- Direct your comments to the judge rather than to the defendant.
- Keep the statement to one page or less if possible.
- You may read your statement out loud in court at the sentencing hearing.
- If you prefer, your victim advocate can read your statement for you.
- You may speak directly to the judge without a written statement if you prefer. Either way, your statement will become a part of the court record
The following topics are suggestions
to address in your impact statement
- How has this crime affected you and those close to you? You may wish to discuss your feelings about what has happened and how it has affected your general wellbeing. Has this crime affected your relationship with any family members, friends, co-workers, and other people? If you or others close to you have sought any type of victim services, including counseling by a licensed professional, clergy or community-sponsored support group, you may wish to mention this.
- What physical injuries or symptoms have you or others close to you suffered as a result of this crime? You may want to write about how long the injuries lasted, or how long they are expected to last, and if you sought medical treatment for these injuries. You may also want to discuss any changes you have made in your life as a result of these injuries.
- Has this crime affected your ability to perform your work, make a living, run a household, go to school or enjoy any other activities you previously performed or enjoyed? If so, please explain how these activities have been affected by this crime.
- You may want to discuss any restitution issues or losses you may have suffered due to the crime.