Saturday, 18 May 2024

Report outlines number of victim restitution claims

LAKE COUNTY – A new state report shows that Lake County Victim-Witness' efforts to get restitution for victims of crime has resulted in a near doubling of funds over the last two fiscal years.

The California Victim Compensation Board and Government Claims Board has released its annual report compiling various statistics regarding victims throughout California.

Also contained in the report is a tally of claims submitted by all 58 counties regarding victims of violent crime.

Lake County ranks 28th of all 58 counties for applications received from the District Attorney's Victim-Witness Division, which submitted 358 for fiscal year 2006-07, according to the report.

Napa ranked 26th, submitting 223; Mendocino ranked 41st with 136 applications; and Sonoma was listed at 14th, with 860 applications, the report noted.

Claims are submitted through local Victim-Witness centers for crimes including child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, drunk driving with injuries and any crime committed against a person.

Applicants submit claims to receive reimbursement from the Restitution Fund that defendants are ordered to pay into upon any conviction.

“Restitution fines are ordered for all defendants upon conviction of a misdemeanor or felony and vary in amount – the limit being $10,000 for felonies, $1,000 for misdemeanors,” explained Lake County Victim-Witness Director Sam Laird in a statement from his office. “This is not ‘taxpayers' dollars’ in the traditional sense of the word.”

Reimbursements to victims include costs associated with medical/dental bills, mental health therapy and relocation, Laird explained.

“I know our staff is doing everything possible to make sure that all victims are offered compensation through the board, some counties are just not as active as Lake because of lack of funding or staff,” said Laird. “The support we receive from our District Attorney and all members of the DA’s Office and local law enforcement makes this possible.”

The number is just a small fraction of the new victims that Lake County Victim-Witness helps, said Laird.

Laird says the office helps between 1,000 and 1,300 new victims annually. When Laird joined Victim-Witness in 2001, he said the office was serving between 800 and 1,000 victims annually.

Not all victims qualify for the program and some decline to apply, he added.

In the 2006-07 fiscal year, $299,026 was reimbursed to people who were victimized in Lake County, Laird reported. In comparison, victim reimbursement was $186,282 in 2005-06; $93,614 for2004-05; and $181,813 for 2003-04.

“I am very pleased with the report,” said District Attorney Jon Hopkins. “Our Victim-Witness Division is so active, doing everything possible to ensure that victims are not left behind or fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system, and our entire office is organized to maximize the benefits to the victims.”

For more information about the Victim Compensation Board and Government Claims Board visit

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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