New State Law Changes California Restitution Fund For Crime Victims

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Some crime victims in California could soon find it easier to get compensation from a state fund.  

Starting January first, the state will will be able to hold a criminal’s tax return if they don’t pay into the fund.   

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley starts our series of reports about new state laws taking effect with the New Year...
Democratic State Senator Ron Calderon of the Los Angeles area wrote the new law. 

He says it ensures that the state’s “Restitution Fund” remains solvent and helps crime victims. 

He says he came up with the idea after his family was affected by a crime two years ago...
Calderon:   “My nephew was riding a skateboard down the street which he probably shouldn’t have been doing and it was a was a hit and run. He was a speeder and he finally turned himself in and he was prosecuted. But, it was tragic and he was hit and died on impact. And, it was a shock to everybody...”    
Calderon says his family members had a hard time getting restitution to pay for counseling they received after the accident. 

He says that encouraged him to make sure the cost of psychological counseling and medical bills are covered for victims.  

If criminals don’t pay into the restitution fund, the state controller can hold back money owed to them by putting a lien on their tax returns...
Calderon:  “As of the first of the year its going to require that on a tax basis, as far as liens are takes a priority right under child and spousal support. Currently its just in line with all the other liens and governmental liens that are already on somebody’s tax return...”
And, there’s another change on New Year’s day...the state compensation board will have the authority to award more money depending on the severity of the crime. 

Currently that’s limited to two-thousand dollars.   

Some family members of criminals opposed the change because they fear paying restitution will cause them an economic hardship.