The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Unit (VSU) is one of the designated Victim Witness Assistance Programs located in every California County to supply victim advocates to deliver comprehensive trauma-informed services to victims of all types of crime.
The VSU has trained and experienced victim advocates to work with crime victims, witnesses, and their families throughout and beyond the criminal justice process.
- Serve as the liaison between the victims, prosecutor, law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies.
- Assess the needs of crime victims and link them to resources and services with local and state services agencies.
- Help crime victims and survivors navigate the criminal justice process.
- Help crime victims and survivors understand and exercise their Marsy’s Law Rights throughout the court process.
It is important to us that crime victims are treated fairly and remain an integral part of the proceedings.
Crisis Intervention and Emergency Assistance
Victim advocates assist crime victims with emotional, physical and financial crisis resulting from a crime. In certain cases, the VSU staff provide emergency financial assistance for emergency relocation and funeral expenses as well as referrals for services such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care and transportation.
Resource and Referral Assistance
A victim of crime may be in need of assistance from other community agencies. Victim advocates will help obtain appropriate services to meet the crime victims’ identified needs by connecting the crime victims with resources which offer financial aid, emergency assistance, counseling and psychiatric services, legal assistance and assistance with medical and rehabilitation programs.
Orientation to the Criminal Justice System
The VSU staff will provide information regarding court procedures and the function of the local criminal justice system.
Case Status and Disposition
The VSU advocates will notify crime victims of court dates, provide a general explanation of what happens during specific hearings and provide a summary of the outcome of each hearing including the disposition results from a sentencing hearing. Additionally, the VSU advocates will help crime victims understand their role as a witness in the case and what to expect when they testify.
Court Support and Escort
When needed, a victim advocate will provide support and information to crime victims, witnesses and family members while they accompany them to court proceedings. The VSU advocates will also provide support to crime victims during interviews with law enforcement and prosecutors. As needed, the VSU advocates will help coordinate transportation for crime victims, witnesses and their family members.
Members of the VSU team can assist in submitting a request to retrieve personal property that was held as evidence by the court or law enforcement.
Victim Impact Statement
This is an opportunity for you and your family to be heard by the court. Victim advocates will assist you and/or your family in making a personal or written statement to the court, probation department or parole hearing on how this crime has impacted your life.
Upon request a victim advocate can inform your employer that you have been a victim or are a witness to a crime that may cause you to miss work. They will explain to the employer that you have been called upon by the court to testify as a witness.
The restitution clerk and victim advocate located in the District Attorney’s Office can help you submit a request for restitution for your crime related economic losses.
Victim’s Compensation Program
If you or a member of your family sustained injury as a direct result of a crime, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance through the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. A VSU advocate will help you complete and submit a CalVCB application to the VSU Claims Unit.
All VSU advocates receive mandatory Entry Level Advocate training and ongoing training throughout their career focusing on topics including working with victims of all types of crime, understanding and navigating the criminal justice process, how to help crime victims exercise victims’ rights and best practices in assessing the needs of victims and links to services when needed from local or state agencies and organizations offering services to crime victims.
The VSU advocates are dedicated to providing trauma-informed, client-centered comprehensive services to victims of all types of crime. The VSU advocates are uniquely positioned, as part of the DA’s Office, to best help crime victims understand and navigate the criminal justice system. The VSU advocates are equipped with immediate access to information regarding court cases to provide crime victims with notification of court dates and an explanation of court hearings. They serve as the liaison with the assigned Deputy District Attorneys (DDAs) to help crime victims communicate with DDAs and provide support to victim-survivors during meetings with DDAs or while testifying in court. The VSU advocates also serve as a liaison for crime victims with law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. Victim advocates notify crime victims of their Marsy’s Law Rights in addition to explaining how and when to exercise their rights throughout and beyond the court process. They assess the needs of crime victims, assist with safety planning and lethality assessment to make appropriate referrals to partner agencies who offer services for the identified needs of crime victims and their families. The VSU works with community-based agencies and social services agencies to provide comprehensive services to meet the variety of needs of crime victims and their families.