Marsy's Law

Who is a Victim?

Prior to the passage of Proposition 9, “Victim” was defined under the Penal Code “as the person against whom a crime had been committed.” With the passage of Proposition 9, “victim” as used in the California Constitution article I, § 28 is defined as “a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. The term ‘victim’ also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated. The term ‘victim’ does not include a person in custody for an offense, the accused, or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a minor victim.” (Cal. Const., art. I, § 28(e).)

How does a victim have a right to receive a Marsy's Law?

A victim, the retained attorney of a victim, a law representative of the victim or the prosecuting attorney upon request of the victim, may enforce the rights enumerated in subdivision (b) of Section 28 of Article I of the California Constitution in any trial or appellate court with jurisdiction over the case as a matter of right. The court shall act promptly on such a request.

Does every victim have a right to receive a Marsy's Card or just victims of violent crimes?

Penal Code section 679.026(b) and 679.026(c) states that every victim of crime has the right to receive a Marsy’s Rights card.

When does the Marsy's rights card need to be given to the victim?

Penal Code section 679.026 (c)(1) mandates that every law enforcement agency investigating a criminal act and every agency prosecuting a criminal act shall, as provided herein, at the time of initial contact with a crime victim, during a follow-up investigation, or as soon thereafter as deemed appropriate by investigating officers or prosecuting attorneys, provide or make available to each victim of the criminal act without cost or charge a “Marsy’s Rights” card.

What are my rights under Marsy's Law?

Marsy’s Law significantly expands the rights of victims in California. Under Marsy’s Law, the California Constitution article I, § 28, section (b) now provides victims with the following enumerated rights:

  • To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
  • To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
  • To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
  • To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
  • To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
  • To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
  • To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
  • To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
  • To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
  • To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
  • To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
  • To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
  • To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.
  • To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.
  • To have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.
  • To restitution. (a) It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer; (b) Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss; (c) All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.
  • To be informed of the rights enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (16).

Helping Victims

The District Attorney's office is committed to providing help and services to victims of crime who find themselves overwhelmed by their circumstances and the criminal justice system.

Victim advocates are equipped to offer emotional support, financial links and important information about how the system works. The intent of the Victim Assistance Program is to reduce the trauma and insensitivity that victims suffer following a crime. Advocates can help victims navigate through the legal system, directing them to agencies and organizations that offer assistance and emergency services.

We can answer questions unique to crime victims such as:

  • What rights do I have in court?
  • Where do I go to get help as a victim of a crime?
  • Why do I have to testify?

You may also contact the Victim Witness Assistance Program in our office.  To get a map and directions, click on the Victim-Witness Program page.


Family Justice Center

Family Justice Center Logo

A community partnership providing help for hurting families.

Located at the Family Justice Center 2999 S. 4th St.

El Centro, CA

Open Monday to Friday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

(760) 336‐3965

The Vision

Our vision is to transform our community by breaking the cycle of family violence in this generation; Restoring hope to our clients, their families and our community.

The Mission

The Imperial County Family Justice Center meets the needs of people impacted by family violence by bringing together a wide range of services delivered through a team of skilled, compassionate providers operating in a safe and caring environment.

The Purpose

To restore hope!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is a court hearing where the defendant is formally charged with an offense or offenses filed against him or her. In addition, the court also advises the defendant of their constitutional rights and provides the defendant with a copy of the complaint. The defendant can enter a guilty or not guilty plea. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney if the defendant qualifies.

Where can I report a crime?

You can report a crime to the police agency or law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Calexico, the crime is reported to the Calexico Police Department. However, if the crime occurred in an unincorporated area within the County of Imperial, than the crime is reported to the Imperial County Sheriff Office.

What is the jurisdiction of Imperial County District Attorney's Office?

The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes crimes that occur within the County of Imperial. This includes crimes that are allege to have occurred in Calexico, El Centro, Brawley, Calipatria, Westmorland, Seeley, Heber, Niland, Desert Shores, Salton Sea area, Winterhaven, Holtville, and other unincorporated areas of Imperial County.

Who decides what charges to file, and how do they make that decision?

A deputy district attorney reviews cases brought to the District Attorney’s Office by local law enforcement agencies. The reports are reviewed in light of current law and whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges requested by the agency.

Who is the District Attorney of Imperial County?

The District Attorney of Imperial is the Hon. Gilbert G. Otero. The district attorney is elected to the position every four years.

If the District Attorney's Office decides to file a charge or charges, what happens next?

Once the District Attorney’s Office decides to file a charge or charges, a complaint is prepared. A complaint is a document that tells a defendant what charge or charges are filed against him or her. If the complaint is a misdemeanor complaint, than the law enforcement agency files the complaint in the judicial district where the crime occurred. For example if the crime occurred in Calexico, the complaint is filed in the Calexico Superior Court. However, if a felony charge or charges are approved, than the law enforcement agency files the complaint at the Jail Department.

What happens when a complaint is filed?

If a misdemeanor complaint is filed, the court assigns a court case number to the complaint and notifies the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office prepares a Notice of Arraignment notifying the defendant of his first court appearance in court. If a felony complaint is filed, the court issues an arrest warrant.

If I get a subpoena, do I have to go to court?

Yes. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. If you are subpoenaed by the District Attorney’s Office, you can call the following telephone number to verify whether you will still be needed in court: 760-482-4346. You can also ask to speak to the deputy who is handling the case.

If the court ordered the defendant to pay restitution, how is it collected?

If the defendant is on felony or summary probation, you may contact the Imperial County Probation Office and ask to speak to the defendant’s supervising probation officer. The telephone number for the Imperial County Probation Office is 760-339-6229. If the defendant was sentenced to state prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can provide assistance. It is very important for a victim to provide all the information necessary so that the court can order the correct amount of restitution owed to a victim.

If I am called as a witness, will I have to speak in front of the defendant in court?

Yes. The defendant has a right to be present to hear the testimony and evidence presented against him or her. In addition, the defendant’s defense attorney has the right to ask you questions.

If I must miss work in order to testify, will the District Attorney's Office pay my wages when I testify?

No. A witness must go to court to testify about matters that he or she has knowledge of. However, if a witnesses is traveling from out of county, a witness may be entitled to mileage.

If I am a victim of a crime, can you tell me the name of the defendant and the court days?

Yes. If we have filed charges against the defendant, we can provide a victim with the name of the defendant and the court dates. A victim can call the office at 760-482-4331.

If I am a victim of domestic violence, and I do not want to file charges, do I have the right "not to press charges"?

No. A victim does not “press charges” or “drop charges”. All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of California. All crimes are offenses not just against the individual but also against the public. The prosecutor, and only the prosecutor, can issue or dismiss a complaint. However, the prosecutor may take into account a victim’s concerns. Many factors are taken into account when deciding whether to file a criminal complaint and how to resolve charges after a complaint is filed. These factors include, but is not limited to, a defendant’s criminal history, whether the defendant has been arrested or convicted of the same or similar crime, the severity of the current offense, the extent of any injuries suffered by a victim, whether the defendant has other pending charges, and whether the defendant could be a danger to the public now and in the future.

What is a plea agreement?

A plea agreement is a way of settling a criminal case without the time and expense of a trial. In forming a plea offer, the prosecutor considers the seriousness of the crime, the strength of the evidence, the likelihood of a guilty verdict, the victims’ trauma when testifying. In addition, a victim’s wishes and public safety are also taken into consideration. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests.

Are there any services available to a victim of a crime?

Yes. If you are a victim of a crime, you may contact the Imperial County Probation Victim-Witness Assistance Program located at 940 West Main Street, El Centro, California 92243, or call 760-339-6870; or contact the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board at 800-777-229 or 800-955-0045.  You may also click on this link to receive more information from our Victim-Witness page.

Does the District Attorney or District Attorney's Office represent the victim?

No. The District Attorney’s Office represents the People of the State of California. A prosecutor is prevented by law from answering legal questions or offering legal advice. (California Bus. & Prof. Code § 6131) Further, the district attorney does not have the authority to prosecute civil cases such as divorces or adoption, on behalf of individual citizens.

Where is the Imperial County District Attorney's Office located?

The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office is located at 940 West Main Street, Suite 102, El Centro, Ca 92243 The telephone number to the main office 760-482-4331.

Where do I go if I need assistance in obtaining child support?

The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) handles child/family support issues. The office of the Department of Child Support Services is located at 2795 S. 4th Street, El Centro, CA 92243, (866)901-3212; email address is csadmin@co.imperial.ca.us.

The Imperial County District Attorney's Office no longer handles child/family support issues.   Enforcement and establishment of paternity and child support now fall under the DCSS.

Accordion 2

Testifying in Court

The criminal justice system can be overwhelming to crime victims. This web page is a guide to the process and to the terms you may encounter as your case moves through the criminal justice system.

The Subpoena

A subpoena is a court order requiring you to be present at the time and place stated. You will receive the subpoena either in person or by mail.

It is important to understand that court hearings do not always take place at the exact time scheduled. Calendar conflicts, the unavailability of witnesses, legal motions or court scheduling conflicts may cause delays or continuances. The Deputy District Attorney assigned to your case may ask that you agree to be on “telephone stand by” which means that you can continue your normal routine but you must be able to come to court immediately when you are called.

The subpoena will state the type of hearing at which you are to appear. If you do not appear, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest and impose a fine and/or a jail sentence. Please bring your subpoena with you to court.


If the case is continued to another court date we will make every attempt to notify you that you do not need to appear in court. However, there are some instances when the continuance is sought on the date you are scheduled to appear and we may not be able to notify you in time.

If you have questions about your subpoena please call the District Attorney’s Office at (760) 482-­‐4331

Defense Attorney

The defense attorney may ask to talk with you to find out about your testimony. There are no rules or laws prohibiting you from telling the defendant’s attorney or a representative of the defense what your testimony will be. However, you are not required to do so. This is your decision. Feel free to discuss any of this with the Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case. If you chose to speak to the defense, you may wish to have another person present or tape record the interview to avoid later misquotations and misunderstandings.

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