Victim Assistance Program

Victim Assistance Program

Government program that provides information and aid to persons who have suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a crime.

All 50 states have government-funded entities that provide services to Victims of Crime. In addition, the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which was established in 1984 under the victims of crime act, oversees many federal programs that benefit crime victims. These programs provide information to victims about their rights as well as emotional and financial support.

Victim assistance programs appeared for the first time in the early 1970s as part of the Victims' Rights movement. Victims complained that police and prosecutors did not keep them informed about ongoing investigations and prosecutions. Most importantly, victims' rights advocates argued for the establishment of victim compensation funds. States began to enact victims' compensation statutes and, by 2003, all 50 states had such funds in place.

These laws authorized the creation of programs that pay victims compensation for certain losses associate with a criminal act. Compensation is generally provided for lost earnings, medical expenses, mental health counseling, and funeral expenses. However, these programs do not fully compensate victims because losses are capped at fixed amounts. In addition, victims must satisfy threshold requirements: (1) they must report the crime to law enforcement within a specific period of time (usually 30 days); (2) the crime must have occurred within the state that the claim is made; (3) a claim must be filed with the compensation program within a specific amount of time; (4) the victim must cooperate fully with the investigation and prosecution of the crime; and, (5) the victim cannot have been committing a crime or have been involved in any misconduct connected to the incident. Some states limit compensation benefits only to victims who have low incomes, while other compensation programs may only pay benefits to victims who are physically injured or to the families of victims who are killed.

Though some compensation funds are paid for with taxpayer money, most state programs are funded by fees and charges paid for by offenders. For example, some states require an offender to pay a set penalty fee, such as $50 for each felony charge. This creates a compensation pool, which encourages victims to sue when those victims would otherwise be discouraged at the prospect of trying to make a criminal pay a court judgment.

Apart from compensation programs, federal and state laws mandate that victims be kept informed about the criminal investigation and prosecution. Though police and prosecutors may contact victims, most jurisdictions have employees who serve as victim advocates. Victim advocates counsel victims and their families, update them about the criminal case, prepare victims to testify at trial, and help them apply to the compensation fund. In addition, they assist victims prepare impact statements that are either given orally or submitted in writing to the court before the defendant is sentenced.

Crime victims may also receive restitution directly from the defendant. Judges routinely order the person convicted of a crime to pay for any damage to the victim's property.

Further readings

Beloof, Douglas E. 1999. Victims in Criminal Procedure. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.

Davis, Joseph A., ed. 2001. Stalking Crimes and Victim Protection: Prevention, Intervention, Threat Assessment, and Case Management. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.

Jerin, Robert A., and Laura J. Moriarity. 1998. Victims of Crime. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

Office for Victims of Crime Website. Available online at <> (accessed September 5, 2003).


Victims of Crime; Victims of Crime Act of 1984; Victims' Rights.

References in periodicals archive ?
That continues a pattern first begun in 2009, when lawmakers called for the creation of a $10 million-per-year victim assistance program but never appropriated the money for it.
Weakland had a victim assistance program, Project Benjamin, of which lsely was deeply suspicious.
Meg Kennedy Dugan is Director of the Victim Assistance Program in New Hampshire and co-author Roger Hock is a Professor of Psychology: the two join forces and expertise to provide the updated second edition of IT'S MY LIFE NOW: STARTING OVER AFTER AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
The woman, a single mother of two, was relocated under a victim assistance program offered by the CHA, but she never went to court to testify against the drug dealers.
11) It seemed obvious to us that the Victim Assistance Program office was less than neutral in this case, if it is neutral in any case, and we feared that the "assistant" was trying to convince the family to ask for death.
Or, you or your client seek the assistance of a court-funded victim assistance program only to find that the court made an across the board 40 percent reduction in its work force as part of another severe cost reduction program.
It also provides a complete listing of professional colleagues nationwide that state victim assistance program administrators can contact for helpful information.
PROVO, Utah -- Vivint[TM], one of the nation's largest home automation companies, announced that its Victim Assistance Program is providing free home security and monitoring systems to 33 crime victims in North Little Rock as part of a national initiative.
That year, lawmakers passed an anti-sex-trafficking law that called for the creation of a similar, $10 million-per-year victim assistance program, meant to offer grants to provide housing, counseling and medical care for trafficking survivors.
On Monday, Bank of America joined the deluge of gratitude, announcing it will make a $50,000 donation to the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation and another $50,000 gift to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Victim Assistance Program.
Education, experience, and an oral interview also serve as selection criteria for the volunteer crisis counselors in the victim assistance program.
Expanding on the industry's first dedicated Fraud Victim Assistance program established in 1992, the reactive track gives businesses several customizable options, including:

Full browser ?