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Victim's Guide to the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
52 pages
This publication provides crime victims information on various stages of case processing in the criminal justice system, with attention to victim-related provisions of California law and victim services.
The first section reviews the provisions of California's Marsy's Law, which was enacted in November 2008 with the passage of Proposition 9. This law provides crime victims with 17 rights in the California Constitution. The second section begins a series of sections on stages of criminal justice processing with an overview of victims' rights in the context of the initial police contact. This section is divided into the investigation process, a checklist of information to give to the police, and common issues of concern at this stage. This stage culminates with the forwarding of police reports to the prosecutor's office for possible filing of criminal charges. The third section then focuses on the filing of criminal charges. The overview of this stage addresses the crime incident, the police investigation, the District Attorney's Office, and resources for victims at this stage of case processing. Section four addresses the first court appearance. This is the stage in which the defendant is informed of the charges being filed against him/her. The defendant enters a plea; each type of plea (no contest, guilty, and not guilty) is discussed. The defendant's custody status is also determined. Factors the court considers when determining custody status are outlined in this section. Other sections are devoted to the following stages of case processing: pretrial actions and procedures, trial procedures, sentencing, and post-sentencing. The latter pertains to appeals and restitution. The concluding section lists and briefly describes resources available for crime victims in California, along with contact information.