Under California law (Government Code Sections 13959-13969.3), qualifying victims of crime may receive financial assistance for losses resulting from a crime when these losses cannot be reimbursed by other sources. The State Board of Control (Board), Victims of Crime Program (Program), administers California's Crime Victim Compensation Program.
Losses That May Be Covered
- Mental Health Counseling
- Financial Support
- Job Retraining
Losses That Are Not Covered
Personal property losses, including cash, are not eligible for reimbursement under the Program. The Program also cannot reimburse applicants for expenses related to the prosecution of an alleged perpetrator or compensate applicants for 'pain and suffering.'
However, losses not covered by the Program may be recoverable either through court- ordered restitution as part of a convicted perpetrator's criminal sentence, or through the enforcement of a judgment obtained in a civil lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator. For more information about these two methods of loss recovery, contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Center in your area (see the government listings of your local telephone directory).
Who Is Eligible?
- A "victim" who was injured or died as a result of a crime.
- A "derivative victim" who was not directly injured or killed as a result of a crime but who, at the time of the crime, was a resident of California; AND
- was the parent, sibling, spouse, or child of the victim;
- OR was living with the victim at the time of the crime;
- OR had lived with the victim for at least two years in a relationship similar to a parent, sibling, spouse, or child of the victim;
- OR was another family member of the victim, including the victim's fiance(e), and witnessed the crime.
- Anyone who pays for the medical and/or funeral/burial expenses of a deceased victim.
Who Is Not Eligible?
- Persons who commit the crime.
- Persons who contributed to or took part in the events leading to the crime.
- Persons who do not cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and/or prosecution of known suspects.
- Persons who do not cooperate with the staff of the State Board of Control and/or the Victim/Witness Assistance Center in the verification of the claim.
These Requirements Must Be Met
- The crime must have occurred in California, or if the crime occurred outside of California, the victim must have been a California resident at the time of the crime.
- The crime must be reported to the police, sheriff, highway patrol, or other appropriate law enforcement agency.
- The victim must cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of any known suspect(s).
- The victim must cooperate with staff of the State Board of Control and/or the Victim/Witness Assistance Center in the verification of the claim.
- All other sources of reimbursement must first be used.
The law limits eligibility for persons convicted of felonies committed on or after January 1 1989. If you fall within this category, you may wish to seek further information or assistance from the State Board of Control or a local Victim/Witness Assistance Center.
- Applications for adult victims must be filed within one year of the date of the crime. The Board may, for 'good cause,' grant an extension for such applications filed up to three years after the date of the crime.
- Applications resulting from crimes against a minor must be filed before the minor's 19th birthday. The Board may, for 'good cause," grant an extension for such applications up to the minor's 21st birthday.
- Applications filed more than three years after the date of the crime against an adult or after a minor victim's 21st birthday cannot be accepted.
Victim/Witness Assistance Centers are located throughout the State. These centers have staff who are trained to assist victims in applying for compensation under the Program.
Applicants may also be assisted by a private attorney. California Government Code Section 13965(d) provides that the Board shall pay private attorney fees of 10 percent of the approved award up to a maximum of $500. The attorney fees are not deducted from the applicant's award and are paid separately from the approved award. The law also prohibits attorneys from charging, demanding, receiving, or collecting any amount for their services except as may be awarded by the Board.
If you have an un-reimbursed loss of wages or income and/or emergency medical treatment expenses as a direct result of a crime, you may be eligible for an emergency award of up to $2,000.
If you receive an emergency award and intend to claim additional losses or expenses in the future, you must file a regular application within one year of the date of the crime. This is because an emergency award is only an advance on a fully verified regular award.
However, if you expect no other losses or expenses other than those paid by your emergency award, you do not need to file a regular application if you verify on the emergency award application form that you will submit no further losses. Your emergency application will then be verified based on the information you provide on that form. Applications for emergency awards are processed within 30 business days after the application is accepted as complete.
If you receive an emergency award but are later found ineligible to receive any part of the award, you will have to repay the amount received in error.
Verification and Hearing on the Application
Applications filed with the Program are reviewed to determine eligibility. After completion of this review, you will be advised by mail of the staff recommendation to the Board of Control on your application. Appeal rights will also be provided should you disagree with the staff recommendation.
Program Pays Last
The Victims of Crime Program is the "payer of last resort." If you have any other sources of reimbursement available for your crime-related losses, you must use these available source before becoming eligible for payments from the Program. If you receive other reimbursements after obtaining benefits from the Program, you must repay the Program. Other reimbursement sources you may have available include, but are not limited to, medical or dental insurance, public program benefits, life and auto insurance, workers' compensation benefits, court-ordered restitution, or civil lawsuit recovery.
By using all other sources of reimbursement for your losses, you enable the Program to assist other deserving victims who have no other source of reimbursement for their losses.
If you fail to disclose your available sources of reimbursement, your claim may be denied by the Board for lack of cooperation. If this happens, you may have to repay any amount the Program had already paid to you or on your behalf.
General Payment Limitations
The total of all reimbursements to a victim cannot exceed the maximum Program benefit of $46,000.
There are also several specific payment limitations governing particular benefits under the Program, for loss of wages or income, loss of support, medical expenses, outpatient mental health counseling expenses, and funeral/burial expenses.
An applicant who has incurred expenses that exceed the Program's rates/limitations may not be eligible for reimbursement beyond the Program's maximum benefit levels.
State law requires a provider who accepts the Program's payment to consider it as payment in full and prohibits the provider from seeking further payment from the person who received the services. (This limitation does not apply to reimbursement of funeral/burial expenses.)
An applicant's eligibility for Program benefits does not guarantee payment for services rendered.
If you have questions or need more information, please contact the Program toll-free at 1-800-777-9229; the Victim/Witness Assistance Center in your area (see the government listings of your local telephone directory); or the Statewide Victims Resource Center toll-free at 1-800-VICTIMS (842-8467).
If you are a Victim of a Crime, you may be eligible for help