Victim-Witness Assistance Program

Victim-Witness Assistance Program


What are MY rights as the witness or victim of a crime?

The Victim-Witness Assistance Program provides services to witnesses and victims of crimes of violence or threat of violence. Victim advocates ensure that crime witnesses/victims and their families are kept informed and supported throughout the criminal justice process. If you are a victim or witness to a crime this program MUST accommodate you.

Where to go for help/information…

Santa Barbara
1112 Santa Barbara St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Tel: (805) 568-2400

Santa Maria
312-D East Cook Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Tel: (805) 346-7529
115 Civic Center Plaza
Lompoc, CA 93436
Tel: (805) 737-7910

Toll Free: 855-840-3232

Do I receive any compensation as a victim?

In California, a crime victim has a constitutional right to RESTITUTION. Restitution defined in a law dictionary means “the act of making good or giving equivalent for, any loss, damage or injury”.  Restitution involves restoring economic losses incurred by crime victims or returning what was taken from them as a result of a crime.  The purpose of restitution is to help victims recover from any financial hardship caused by criminal activity.

Components of restitution include, but may not be limited to:

  • Medical and dental expenses for crime-related injuries
  • Funeral/burial expense
  • Relocation expenses
  • Mental Health and counseling expenses
  • Lost, damaged, or stolen property
  • Financial losses resulting from theft, forgery, embezzlement, etc.
  • Income loss

It is recommended that you keep copies of bills, receipts and estimates of expenses related to the crime to help calculate the amount of your restitution. Prosecutors can seek a restitution order from the judge handling the criminal case at the time of sentencing. If the defendant’s sentence includes probation, the Deputy Probation Officer may contact you for your restitution input in order to determine restitution and collect as a condition of probation. 

How do I know if I am able to receive assistance from the program?

As a witness, you are entitled to certain rights if you have given either oral or written testimony on your knowledge of the crime committed. If you are asked to testify in court you are considered a “witness” under the law and are thus entitled to support, information, and often compensation.

How do I know if I need to give evidence in court?

You will receive a subpoena from the court; this court order will tell you which court to attend, what time to be there, and who asked you to come to court.

Rights and Responsibilities of Witnesses

If you have questions regarding the case you are involved you have the right to have them answered!

Feel to call the attorney who is prosecuting the case or the Antitrust Division Victim-Witness Coordinator
Be aware, some information may be confidential but the program will do it’s best to accommodate and assure you.

Witnesses are entitled to a witness fee for every day they appear in court

You will receive a fee for the time spent in court to testify and the time you spend waiting to testify. You must submit a witness voucher in order to receive your fees and you should receive the fees 4-6 weeks after the testimony.

You have the right to be free from threats

Any threats you receive during the trial is considered a federal offense and should be reported to the Antitrust Division or the FBI.

You have the right to deny requests for an interview or conversation with defense or prosecution lawyers

The Division will contact you for your testimony but you are not on the side of the defense or the prosecution and you do not need to speak to them outside of court setting if you feel uncomfortable doing so.
You may discuss the case with anyone you wish, but it is not a good idea. Be wary of who you speak to, you always want to ensure that a fair trial is being conducted.

Once you are identified as a witness, an advocate from the VWAP will assist you throughout your process. You are welcome to contact this person throughout your involvement with the case. Be sure to call the VWAP in your area because each area has their own (Santa Barbara’s is listed above)

Testifying in court and getting involved with a criminal case can be a scary experience for anyone. Make sure your rights are intact! Ask your advocate many questions to avoid confusion. The law is on your side.

Additional Resources

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