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California Victim Compensation: Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board
The California Victims Compensation Program was created to lessen the financial impact of crime on qualifying victims. This program is a "payer of last resort" for victims' out-of-pocket (non-reimbursed) losses, and applies only where the crime involved physical injury or threat of injury. In addition, the crime must have occurred in California, or to a California resident, and the victim cannot have been a participant in the crime. Expenses covered may include medical or dental costs; lost wages; funeral expenses; relocation costs, etc. NOTE: Property losses are not covered under the Victims of Crime Compensation Program. For more information please click on the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board link under Resources.
A subpoena is a court order. When you receive a subpoena you must go to court on the date and at the time shown on the subpoena. Failure to appear could result in a warrant for your arrest.
What should I know before I go to court?
Leave your home early enough to allow enough time for travel and court security screening. Everyone entering a courthouse must go through the court security screening. The following items are not allowed in courthouses: guns, knives, food or drinks (except for water), metal utensils, scissors, nail clippers, metal knitting needles, weapons or any other sharp objects.
What should I wear?
Business casual clothing is suggested. Do not wear shorts, tank tops, clothing that shows your stomach, beachwear, flip-flops or clothing with inappropriate words or signs. Do not wear buttons or carry signs having to do with the case without discussing it first with the prosecutor.
What should I do if I have safety concerns?
Intimidating or harassing a victim or witness is a crime. If this has happened, contact your local law enforcement. If you have concerns about your safety while in court, notify the Sheriff’s Department in the courthouse or the bailiff in the courtroom as well as the prosecutor or victim advocate.
What if I am contacted by someone other than a prosecutor or the police for an interview or to give a statement?
Anyone contacting you about the case should clearly identify themselves and their role in the criminal justice system (e.g., a representative of the District Attorney's Office, the law enforcement agency or the defendant). Be truthful whenever speaking to anyone about the case.
Victims and witnesses have a right to refuse to talk to anyone, including the defendant, his/her attorney or anyone acting on his/her behalf. Victims and witnesses also can set reasonable limits on any conversation they have with anyone seeking to interview or obtain a statement from them, including a defendant or a representative of a defendant.
It is best not to discuss the facts of the case with any other witnesses, even if they are friends or family members.
What happens when I testify in court?
Every witness must take an oath to tell the truth. When any witness testifies, both sides will ask questions. Attorneys may ask about prior statements you made to police, statements by other witnesses records they have obtained, reports in the media, any emails or texts you may have written or information on Facebook or other social media sources. The following are guidelines for testifying in court:
• Be truthful. Do not exaggerate your testimony.
• If you do not understand a question, ask that it be repeated or explained.
• Answer the question asked. Do not volunteer additional information.
• Do not guess.
• If an attorney objects to a question asked by another attorney, wait until the judge tells you whether to answer the question.
• Try to avoid distracting mannerisms such as yawning, nail biting, laughing or facial expressions like eye rolling.
• Never answer a question when you are angry. It may diminish the impact of your testimony.
What if my boss doesn't want me to come to court?
It is against the law for an employer to fire or harass an employee who takes time off from work to go to court because of a subpoena. Please contact the District Attorney’s Office if there is an issue.
What if I need a special accommodation?
Witnesses who need an ALS, TDD/TTY or who have mobility issues should advise the District Attorney’s Office at the contact number listed on the subpoena.
As a victim, am I eligible for compensation?
Victims of crimes of violence may be eligible to receive compensation for their crime-related losses. Victim advocates can explain this program more fully and assist you in applying for this program if you are eligible.
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