Leyva Victim Restitution Bill Clears Senate Public Safety Committee

SB 651 Helps Victims Receive Compensation Following Crimes By Minors

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will ensure that all victims of crimes committed by minors are eligible to receive due compensation passed from the Senate Public Safety Committee earlier today.  

Cosponsored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Crime Victims Action Alliance, SB 651 amends state law so that derivative victims—such as spouses, family members and housemates—will be eligible for compensation as a result of a crime committed against them by a minor.  Courts will then also be able to rely on exact language as opposed to interpretation in cases involving defendants who are minors.
Since the California Welfare and Institutions Code does not currently mirror the California Penal Code's definition of a “victim,” district attorneys have had difficulty obtaining restitution orders on behalf of derivative victims simply because the offender is a minor as opposed to an adult.  Due to this inconsistency, derivative victims of a crimes committed by minors (as opposed to adults) are not eligible for restitution and, as a result, may not be able to pay for related expenses such as mental health counseling.  

“SB 651 fixes an inconsistency in state law that unfairly treats victims of minors differently than the victims of adults related to awarding restitution,” Senator Leyva said.  “Victims of crimes—regardless of the perpetrator’s age—deserve to be able to receive restitution, when appropriate.  After suffering from the clear and direct impacts of the crime, no victim should ever be in a position to not be eligible for restitution simply because of an inconsistency in state law.  I thank the sponsors of this important bill for prioritizing victim restitution and for ensuring that criminals pay the compensation they owe to the Californians that they victimized.”

As the Senate Public Safety Committee today approved SB 651, the Senate Appropriations Committee will next hear the bill in the coming weeks.