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Caution! Computer and Internet activity can be monitored. If you are being abused or stalked it may be safer for you to use a computer a perpetrator does not have access to (e.g., Open Access Lab). If you need to leave this page quickly, click on escape near the top and bottom right of this page and you will be redirected to Google.com. For more information call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), (800) 787-3224 (TTY); or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or CyberAngels online on a safer computer.
Click here for a printer-friendly version of victims' rights.
Crime victims have rights granted by federal and state law. Victims can obtain information regarding the legal rights applicable to their specific situations, as well as information about additional rights not identified on this page from a variety of resources, including:
- Campus Security Authorities;
- Local domestic violence and sexual assault treatment centers;
- Local victim-witness assistance programs (Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program); and the
- Office of Victims' Services (877-433-9069), Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice.
Overviews of a number of the rights given to domestic and sexual violence victims are presented below. To read the full text of these laws visit the California State Legislature and the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives.
- Alcohol & Other Drug Use by Sexual Assault Victims
- Campus-Related Sexual Assault
- Civil Law Suits, Reimbursement, and Restitution
- HIV Testing of Sexual Assault Perpetrators
- Immigration Relief
- Law Enforcement and Judicial System Victims' Rights
- Protection (Restraining) and Other Court Orders
- Rape Forensic Exams
- Right not to be Threatened or Intimidated
- Other Rights
California Penal Code §13823.11 states that if testing is done to determine if alcohol or other drugs were associated with an attempted or completed sexual assault as part of a forensic rape exam that "...Toxicology results obtained pursuant to this paragraph shall not be admissible in any criminal or civil action or proceeding against any victim who consents to the collection of physical evidence pursuant to this paragraph. Except for purposes of prosecuting or defending the crime or crimes necessitating the examination specified by this section, any toxicology results obtained pursuant to this paragraph shall be kept confidential, may not be further disclosed, and shall not be required to be disclosed by the victim for any purpose not specified in this paragraph. The victim shall specifically be informed of the immunity and confidentiality safeguards provided herein."
Note: Per CSU Executive Order 1073 and Cal State L.A. policy Title IX Notice of Non-Discrimination, "Victims should not be deterred from reporting incidents of sexual violence out of a concern that they might be disciplined for related violations of drug, alcohol, or other University policies. The University's primary concern is student safety; therefore, except in extreme circumstances, victims of sexual violence shall not be subject to discipline for related violations of the Student Conduct Code."
New: Beginning March 2014, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 extends the rights below to victims of dating / domestic violence and stalking. In addition, these rights apply whether or not the crimes occurred on or off-campus. For additional information, click Campus-Related Domestic and Sexual Violence Legislation.
Victims (whether student, faculty, or staff) of campus-related sexual assault have legal rights granted by the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights and California Education Code §67380-67385.7. For crimes occurring at or upon the grounds of, or upon off-campus grounds or facilities maintained by the institution, or upon grounds or facilities maintained by affiliated student organizations, these rights include:
- Assistance in notifying University Police or a local law enforcement agency, if requested.
- Notification of which campus personnel should be notified.
- The right to change academic and housing situations, if requested and reasonably available.
- Notification regarding the importance of preserving evidence.
- The right to receive the Cal State L.A. Policy on Sexual Assault.
- Information regarding the University's legal reporting requirements.
- Notification of procedures for guaranteeing confidentiality.
- Being informed of on-campus and community victim support services.
- Notification of University case management procedures.
- Being informed of the right to pursue criminal prosecution and civil litigation.
- Information regarding campus judicial options and procedures.
- The right to have the same opportunities as the accused individual to have others present during disciplinary proceedings.
- The right to be informed of the results of disciplinary proceedings which relate to sexual assaults. The accused individual also has this right.
Civil Law Suits: In general, crime victims have the right to pursue civil law suits against the person who committed the crime against them and other responsible parties. Specifically, California Penal Code §679.02 grants crime victims with the right to file a civil lawsuit. The Clery Act requires university personnel to inform campus-related sexual assault victims of their right to pursue civil litigation. Information regarding civil lawsuits is available through the National Crime Victim Bar Association.
Civil Law Suits and Domestic Violence Victims: California Penal Code §13701 grants domestic violence victims with the right to file a lawsuit against their perpetrators for lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses related to their abuse.
Reimbursement: California Government Code §13950-13974.5 grants domestic violence and sexual assault victims, and victims of other crimes, the right to compensation for unreimbursed expenses related to the crime(s) perpetrated against her or him. Qualifying criteria exist, including the requirement for crimes to be reported to local law enforcement. Additional information on qualifying criteria and other important facts are available through the State of California's Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. For those victims whose crimes occurred in another state, information is available through the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.
Restitution: The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 grants mandatory restitution by convicted perpetrators to domestic violence and stalking victims (18 U.S.C. §2264) and sexual assault victims (18 U.S.C. §2248) for the "full amount of the victims' losses" (as defined by the Court). Individuals convicted of other crimes may also be ordered to pay restitution to their victims per California Penal Code §1191.2. Information on California's Restitution Recovery Program is available through the State of California's Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.
California Penal Code §293 (CPC §293) grants victims of alleged sexual violence the right to protect her/his confidentiality by requesting that her/his name not become a matter of public record. CPC §293 requires law enforcement personnel to inform alleged victims of this right and to document the victim's response in the written incident report. This section of the Code also places restrictions on law enforcement agencies with regards to the disclosure of an alleged victim's name and address. Child and spousal abuse victims also have the right to have their addresses kept confidential (click on the Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice for more information).
California Health and Safety Code §121055 grants victims of rape, spousal rape, unlawful intercourse with a minor, and other sex crimes with the right to request HIV testing of perpetrators charged with these crimes. If there is "probable cause" to believe that blood, semen, saliva, or other body fluids may have been transferred from a perpetrator to a victim the Court can order the perpetrator to be tested for HIV. This code also gives victims the right to receive the results of the perpetrator's HIV test.
In addition, California Penal Code §1202.1 requires HIV testing of persons convicted of unlawful sodomy (anal sex) and oral copulation (oral sex), the above and other sex crimes if there is "probable cause" to believe that blood, semen, saliva, or other body fluids may have been transferred from the perpetrator to the victim. Victims are granted the right to receive the results of these tests.
Immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other crimes may be eligible for special immigration relief (including legal residence in the United States), a right granted by the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013). The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is one of the local law firms that provides assistance to immigrant victims.
California Penal Code §679 was enacted to help ensure "...all victims and witnesses of crime are treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity..." For additional details on the rights granted by this and other California legislation, including the Victims' Bill of Rights visit the Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice.
Sexual Assault Victims' Rights: California Penal Code §679.04 grants sexual assault victims the right to have an advocate and other support person of their choice with her/him during investigative interviews conducted by law enforcement, members of the office of the district attorney, and by the defense attorneys and investigators or others acting for the defense. In addition, the law contains the Sexual Assault Victims' DNA Bill of Rights, California Penal Code §680.
Domestic Violence Victims' Rights: California Penal Code §679.05 grants victims of domestic violence the right to have a domestic violence advocate and a support person of the victim's choosing present at any interview by law enforcement authorities, prosecutors, or defense attorneys.
California Penal Code §13701 gives dating and domestic violence victims the right to request a protection order (an order which instructs perpetrators to stop abusing the victim and other family members) from a superior court. Victims who do not qualify to request a domestic violence restraining order may qualify to request another type of restraining order (civil harassment restraining order, elder or dependent abuse restraining order). In addition, victims can ask their employers to request a workplace violence restraining order. All victims who are in immediate danger can call '911' and request an emergency protective order from a responding police officer.
Other orders which can be requested from a superior court, as a right granted by California Penal Code §13701, include orders:
- "...Directing the attacker to leave the household.
- Preventing the attacker from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the victim.
- Awarding the victim or the other parent custody of or visitation with a minor child or children.
- Restraining the attacker from molesting or interfering with minor children in the custody of the victim.
- Directing the party not granted custody to pay support of minor children, if that party has a legal obligation to do so.
- Directing the defendant to make specified debit payments coming due while the order is in effect.
- Directing that either or both parties participate in counseling..."
Information on protection and other orders can be found through local domestic and sexual violence treatment centers and the California Courts Self-Help Center. Free legal assistance ($20 processing donation) is available to domestic violence victims to obtain restraining orders through the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Barristers Domestic Violence Project at the Los Angeles and Pasadena Superior Courts. Scheduling information is available at (213) 624-3665.
General Rights: The rights granted victims of attempted and completed sexual assault by California Penal Code §13823.11 include the right to: obtain and consent to a rape forensic exam; refuse consent for a rape forensic exam without losing the right to receive care and treatment for injuries and potential sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy resulting from the assault; and request emergency contraception.
Access to Anonymous Rape Forensic Exams: The Violence Against Women and the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 is federal law that grants sexual assault victims with access to rape forensic exams ("Jane Doe rape kits") at no cost whether or not the victim chooses to report the assault to law enforcement or cooperate with law enforcement. The law also gives victims the right to remain anonymous and not provide any identifying information. This law is effective beginning January 5, 2009. Local hospitals which offer no-cost anonymous exams may be found through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, (800) 656-HOPE (4673).
Presence of Sexual Assault Counselor (Advocate) and Support Person: California Penal Code §264.2 grants sexual assault victims the right to have an advocate and at least one other support person of their choice present at rape forensic exams. Click on 24-Hour Hotlines and Local Services to request an advocate through a local rape treatment center.
Victims have the right to report criminal acts against them to law enforcement and to participate in the judicial process. Per California Penal Code §136.1, it is a crime for anyone to attempt to prevent or dissuade crime victims and witnesses from making crime reports to law enforcement officers, prosecuting agencies, judges, and other officials. It is also a crime for anyone to attempt to prevent victims and witnesses from attending or giving testimony at trials and other legal proceedings. Threats and intimidation that include the threat of or actual use of force or violence, or are for monetary gain are felony acts.
Victims have the right to:
- Ask questions, if you are uncomfortable or uncertain about something.
- An advocate and/or support person of your choosing present at all law enforcement and legal interviews, medical follow-ups and at all court proceedings.
- Information on the status of your case. For updates on the case, you may contact the detective or a victim-witness assistance office, who can act as a liaison for you.
- Confidentiality. Local sexual assault and domestic violence treatment center advocates DO NOT work for law enforcement or the District Attorney's office, and will not disclose any information you discuss without your written consent.
- Reimbursement for counseling, medical, and loss of wages associated with the assault, through the California Victim Compensation Board, if you made a report to law enforcement.
- Protect your identity. It is against the law for the media to identify you as the survivor of a sexual assault without your permission.
- Be treated with respect at all times.
- Revoke your testimony at any time. (Except in cases involving domestic violence. The District Attorney may file charges without the consent of the survivor, even when testimony is revoked.)
- Add to your initial statement as you start to recall details more clearly. Please contact the detective to add to your statement
- Decline an interview with defense attorneys and their investigators. If you decide to speak with the defense attorney, please make sure that you have your advocate or the prosecuting attorney with you.
- Reschedule an interview for a time when you will be better able to participate. Please express this concern to your detective or District Attorney.
- Decline phone interviews because you are unable to confirm the identity of the person on the other end of the line. To protect yourself and the case, you can request that all interviews be conducted in person.
- You also have the right to do nothing with your case.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome public safety and testing disclosure, California Health and Safety Code §121055 (unknown enactment date). Retrieved June 11, 2008, from California Law athttp://www.leginfo.ca.gov
Campus sexual assault victims' bill of rights. 20 USC §1092 (f)(8) (1992). Retrieved January 15, 2008, from the Office of the Law Revision Council, U.S. House of Representatives at http://uscode.house.gov/
Falsifying evidence, and bribing, influencing, intimidating or threatening witnesses, California Penal Code §136.1 (unknown enactment date). Retrieved February 11, 2009, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Indemnification of victims of crime. California Government Code §13950-13974.5 (unknown enactment date). Retrieved June 19, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Jeanne clery disclosure of campus security policy and campus crime statistics act, 20 U.S.C. §1092(f) (1998). Retrieved January 15, 2008, from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. Department of Representatives at http://uscode.house.gov/
Law enforcement response to domestic violence, general provisions, California Penal Code §13701 (1984). Retrieved June 14, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Office for Victims of Crime (2005). Attorney general guidelines for victim and witness assistance. Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved June 21, 2008, from http://www.usdoj.gov/olp/final.pdf
Office of criminal justice planning, California Penal Code §13823.11 (1985). Retrieved June 14, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Rape, abduction, carnal abuse of children, and seduction, California Penal Code §264 (1986). Retrieved January 14, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Rights of victims and witnesses of crime, California Penal Code §679-680 (1986). Retrieved January 14, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Sex Offenders, California Penal Code §293 (unknown enactment date). Retrieved February 10, 2009, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Student safety, California Education Code §67380-67385.7 (1990). Retrieved January 15, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
The judgment, California Penal Code §1191.2 (1983). Retrieved June 12, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
The judgment, California Penal Code §1202.1 (1988). Retrieved June 12, 2008, from California Law at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
Violence against women act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. §2248 and §2264 (1994). Retrieved June 23, 2008, from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. Department of Representatives at http://uscode.house.gov/
Violence against women act of 2000, 8 U.S.C. §1101, §1154-55, §1184 (2000). Retrieved June 23, 2008, from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. Department of Representatives at http://uscode.house.gov/
Violence against women and the department of justice reauthorization act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. §3796gg-4 (2005). Retrieved June 5, 2008, from the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. Department of Representatives at http://uscode.house.gov/
Violence against women reauthorization act of 2013, Public Law No: 113-4 (2013). Retrieved March 15, 2013, from the U.S. Government Printing Office at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113s47enr/pdf/BILLS-113s47enr.pdf/
WEAVE, Inc. (no date). Your rights. ©WEAVE, Inc. Retrieved June 14, 2008, from http://www.weaveinc.org/sexualassault/your-rights (used by permission).