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Critical Issues in
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Guia De Justicia Para Victimas Del Crimen (Crime Victim's Guide to Justice Spanish Edition)
Guia De Justicia Para
Victimas Del Crimen
(Crime Victim's Guide to
Justice, Spanish Edition)

Crime Victim Compensation

Crime Victims' Compensation Programs provide monetary assistance to victims of violent crimes. These programs, administered by various agencies and offices in each state, may pay victims of state, tribal or federal crimes for certain types expenses incurred as a direct result of the crime.

Expenses must be reasonable in amount and may include:

- medical expenses;
- mental health counseling expenses;
- mileage;
- funeral and burial expenses;
- loss of earnings or support;
- dental and prosthetic devices;
- eyeglasses or corrective lenses;
- crime scene cleanup expenses;
- replacement costs for personal property used as evidence
- and other similar expenses.

Compensation generally can not be paid for other property losses, attorney's fees or pain and suffering - these must be recovered by bringing a case in civil court. In addition, these programs are a last resort for payment. In most cases, payments can only be made if there is no other source of payment including private health insurance for the victim, other public programs, etc. However, there are no income requirements, and all a victim typically needs to do to be eligible is to document the loss and file their claim within the time specified by their state.

Compensation may be paid for expenses for the primary victim as well as limited compensation for certain secondary victims including family members of a homicide victim, the spouse of a rape victim, and parents of a child who has been physically or sexually abused.

Each program has specific rules to determine if the victim is eligible for assistance after the victim or claimant has filed an application and the information verified. Many programs have online applications or forms you can download (see menu column).

Generally, you are probably eligible if you or a family member has suffered personal injury as a result of:

- a violent crime
- trying to stop a person committing a crime
- trying to help a law enforcement officer
- trying to help a victim of a crime or witnessing a violent crime

Awards of compensation may be made from your state's Crime Victim Compensation Fund. Compensation is approved by the program and funded through a court surcharge on criminal offenders. Compensation is available only to the extent that funds are generated from the surcharge. No compensation can be awarded when money is not available, and compensation is only available for persons who meet the eligibility requirements.

Who Can Apply

- An innocent victim of a violent crime who has suffered harm.
- A family member of a deceased victim.
- A person authorized to act on behalf of a victim or a dependent.
- Parents or other family members under limited circumstances.

Eligibility Requirements

The crime must be reported to law enforcement within the time frame specified by your state or when a report could reasonably have been made.

For most crimes, the claim for compensation must be filed within one year of the crime unless good cause is shown for the delay in filing. (There ARE special exceptions.)

The victim and claimant must reasonably cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of the incident.

Compensation cannot be paid to a claimant if it would unjustly benefit the offender or an accomplice.

The victim cannot contribute to the crime or the injury nor have committed a crime at the time of the incident. Claims may be reduced or denied based upon contribution/conduct.

Types of Assistance

Compensation may be available for expenses incurred as a direct result of the criminal acts of another person if not covered by another source. Examples of expenses covered under the law are: medical care, rehabilitation, funeral expenses, loss of income, counseling, dental expenses, child care costs and mileage. No attorney is needed and compensation cannot be paid for attorneys fees.

Emergency Awards

In most states, emergency awards may be made under extraordinary circumstances. An award may be made for immediate verifiable needs as a result of loss of income or support, emergency medical expenses or funeral expenses. Any emergency award will be deducted from the final award and must be deducted from expenses already incurred.

Claim Process

Upon receipt of the application, law enforcement, physicians, service providers, etc. are contacted to verify all information. The responsible agency reviews the claim and decides whether the claim is eligible and the amount to be paid. Each state has an appeals process if your initial claim is denied.


You must file a Crime Victims Compensation Application form. Forms are usually available from your local domestic violence or sexual assault advocates, local law enforcement agencies, Office of the Attorney General, some state departments of Social Services or Health and Human Services or you can find application forms online for most states - just check the menu column for your state.

Can the victim qualify if she/he is living with the offender?

Programs usually will not pay compensation directly to the victim if she/he is living with the offender, but can pay others on the victim's behalf or can pay the service pro.

Can the victim qualify if she/he did not report the crime within the specified time frame?

The crime must have been reported within guidelines when a report could reasonably have been made. Examples of circumstances justifying delayed reporting include delayed disclosure by a juvenile victim, and safety concerns. However, the program must be informed of the reason for the delay in reporting.

Can the victim qualify if the charges were dismissed against the offender at the victim's request?

Victim cooperation must be reasonable under the circumstances. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, the program may find that the refusal/failure to cooperate was reasonable. Examples of situations where a refusal to cooperate may be reasonable include threats by the offender or others, lack of support from family members, distance from court proceedings, etc. However, as with question #2 above, the program must be informed of the reason(s) for the victim's decision in order to find that his/her cooperation, or lack thereof, was reasonable.

Must the victim have incurred a physical injury, such as a cut, bruise, or broken limb, in order to qualify?

Physical injury is not a prerequisite for assistance; however, since the programs don't cover property losses except in very specific circumstances, most of "what's left" tends to be crimes that include either violence or trauma.

Can the victim qualify for assistance if the offender was not charged?

The victim may qualify for compensation if the program can find that the crime occurred and that the victim meets all eligibility requirements. Most programs base their findings on a preponderance of the evidence -- a lower standard than that required by the prosecutor in proving the charges. Therefore, the victim may qualify for assistance even if the offender is never identified, is never charged or even if found "not guilty" in court. Also, most programs try to get assistance to victims as soon as possible (often within a few weeks); they don't have to wait until the case has worked it's way through the court system (which can take months or even years).

If the offender pled guilty to or was convicted of the crime, is the victim eligible for compensation? Must the victim wait to see if the offender pays restitution before she/he can qualify for compensation for the bills?

Compensation is not dependent upon restitution. Restitution is paid by the offender to the victim, but compensation is paid to the victim by the state. If the victim is eligible, the program can pay the bills on the victim's behalf or reimburse the victim for expenses they have already incurred. Victims should STILL ask the criminal court to order restitution from the offender, because then the offender can then be ordered to pay back the compensation funds, providing assistance to other victims in the state down the road.

Can the victim qualify if, due to income, she/he does not "need" the assistance?

Unlike other programs, there is no income requirement for Victims' Compensation; so long as the victim is eligible for assistance and has suffered a compensable loss, she/he can receive help - even if that person could easily afford to pay the bills.

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Last Updated: May 5, 2011