If you have been victimized by violent crime, you may entitled to compensation from a state crime victim program called the California Victim Compensation Program ("CalVCP").
Crime victims (and relatives of crime victims) who have suffered physical injury or threat of physical injury can apply to the victim compensation program for compensation for crime-related losses, including:
- medical expenses
- funeral expenses
- relocation costs
From our background as police officers, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, our California Crime Victim Advocate Attorneys are uniquely suited to help victims negotiate the criminal justice system. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
In this article, our California Crime Victim Advocate Attorneys provide an overview of the California Victim Compensation Program.1 We cover:
If you have further questions after reading this article, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group for a consultation.
You might also be interested in reading our related articles on victim rights and victim advocacy: Victim Rights and Victim Advocacy in California Criminal Cases; Witness Protection and Other Victim Services in California Criminal Cases; Preparing a California Crime Victim for the Witness Stand; Advocating in Court for California Crime Victims; Victim Restitution & Compensation in California Criminal Cases; and Calculating Restitution Orders in California.
The California Victim Compensation Program ("CalVCP") is a state fund designed to provide compensation to victims of violent crime for unreimbursed losses associated with the crime.2
The California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board administers CalVCP.3
The fund is paid for in large part by restitution fines levied on all criminal defendants in amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000.4
During fiscal year 2008-2009, CalVCP paid out over $90 million dollars to claimants.5
Let's look at an example of CalVCP in action:
Example: Jessica's young son Tom is hit and seriously injured in a hit and run accident in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, despite a police investigation, the perpetrator of the California Vehicle Code 20001 vc hit and run is never found.
Jessica can apply to CalVCP for reimbursement for medical expenses she pays in regards to Tom's care that are not paid for by insurance or another source.
You can watch a video about CalVCP on You Tube here.
It's important to remember that crime victims may be eligible for services and assistance besides financial compensation from CalVCP. For more information, please see our related articles Victim Rights and Victim Advocacy in California Criminal Cases; Preparing a California Crime Victims and Witnesses to Testify in Court; and Advocating in Court for California Crime Victims.
CalVCP compensation is available for victims, and immediate family members of victims, who suffer injury, threat of injury or death from a crime.6
CalVCP covers expenses related to physical injuries (as opposed to purely economic injuries). In certain cases, emotional injuries can be enough to qualify.
CalVCP claims are often made in connection with violent crimes such as:
- California Penal Code 187 pc homicide
- California Penal Code 211 pc robbery
- California Penal Code 261 pc rape
- California Penal Code 288 pc lewd acts with a minor
- Domestic violence crimes in California
- Vehicular manslaughter crimes in California
- Drunk driving crimes in California
- California Penal Code 245 pc ADW
Let's look at a few examples:
Example: Ana is walking home one night when she is sexually assaulted by a masked assailant. She suffers physical injury, as well as extreme emotional trauma, from the crime. She is terrified to leave her house. She doesn't know how she is going to get on with her life.
Thankfully, Ana can get help from the California Victim Compensation Program. The fund reimburses Ana for medical expenses, and pays for counseling services and a home security system.
Example: Jorge is robbed at gunpoint as he leaves the gym. After the robber steals his wallet, the robber pistol-whips Jorge across the face, causing a black eye and other injuries.
Because Jorge suffers physical injury during the course of the Penal Code 211 pc robbery, Jorge can apply to the California Victim Compensation Program for compensation for unreimbursed medical expenses.
Change the facts: Someone steals Jorge's ATM card out of his locker at the gym and uses it to withdraw $2000 from his savings account in violation of California Penal Code 487 pc grand theft law. Jorge does not suffer physical injury as a result of the crime, so he is not eligible for compensation under CalVCP for the $2000 he lost.
However, Jorge is entitled to restitution from the thief. Once the thief is apprehended and convicted, the judge will order the thief to repay to Jorge the $2000 that he stole from him.
For more information about restitution, please see our related articles Victim Restitution & Compensation in California Criminal Cases and Calculating Restitution Orders in California.
Claimants to the California Victim Compensation Program must meet several additional eligibility criteria. The person claiming compensation:
- must have been a California resident at the time of the crime (or the crime was committed in California),
- must not have been involved with the commission of the crime, 7
- must have cooperated with law enforcement,8
- must have been discharged from probation or released from parole, if the person claiming compensation has been convicted of a felony,9 and
- in most cases, must have made the claim within one year of the crime.10
In the event that you make a claim to the California Victim Compensation Program and the claim is denied, you are entitled to a hearing to contest that denial.11
California Victim Compensation Program covers crime-related losses.12 These include:
- Medical and dental treatment
- Mental health services
- Income loss
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of support
- Job retraining
- Home or vehicle modifications
- Home security
- Insurance co-payments
- Crime scene cleanup
- Medically necessary equipment such as a wheelchair
- Childcare services
For more details on the kinds of losses covered by CalVCP, please see the California Victim Compensation Program Quick Reference Guide.
Our California Crime Victim Advocate Attorneys
If you are a crime victim and have questions about the role of victim advocacy, we invite you to call us at Shouse Law Group for a consultation. We also invite you to review our related articles on various aspects of victim advocacy: Victim Rights and Victim Advocacy in California Criminal Cases; Witness Protection and Other Victim Services in California Criminal Cases; Preparing a California Crime Victim for the Witness Stand; Advocating in Court for California Crime Victims; Victim Restitution & Compensation in California Criminal Cases; and Calculating Restitution Orders in California.
You might also be interested in reading our articles on California Vehicle Code 20001 vc hit and run; California Penal Code 487 pc grand theft; California Penal Code 187 pc homicide; California Penal Code 261 pc rape; California Penal Code 211 pc robbery; Domestic violence crimes in California; Drunk driving crimes in California; Vehicular manslaughter crimes in California; California Penal Code 245 ADW; and California Penal Code 288 pc lewd acts with a child.
1 Our California Crime Victim Advocate Attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina and Whittier. We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.
2 California Government Code Section 13950 provides: "(a) The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public interest to assist residents of the State of California in obtaining compensation for the pecuniary losses they suffer as a direct result of criminal acts. (b) This chapter shall govern the procedure by which crime victims may obtain compensation from the Restitution Fund. (c) Any reference in statute or regulations to Article 1 (commencing with Section 13959) of Chapter 5, as it read on December 31, 2002, shall be construed to refer to this chapter."
3 California Government Code Section 13900 provides: "(a) As used in this chapter, "board" means the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. (b) Any reference in statute or regulation to the State Board of Control shall be construed to refer to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board."
4 California Penal Code Section 1202.4(b) provides: "(b) In every case where a person is convicted of a crime, the court shall impose a separate and additional restitution fine, unless it finds compelling and extraordinary reasons for not doing so, and states those reasons on the record. (1) The restitution fine shall be set at the discretion of the court and commensurate with the seriousness of the offense, but shall not be less than two hundred dollars ($200), and not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), if the person is convicted of a felony, and shall not be less than one hundred dollars ($100), and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), if the person is convicted of a misdemeanor. (2) In setting a felony restitution fine, the court may determine the amount of the fine as the product of two hundred dollars ($200) multiplied by the number of years of imprisonment the defendant is ordered to serve, multiplied by the number of felony counts of which the defendant is convicted."
6 California Government Code Section 13955 provides: "Except as provided in Section 13956, a person shall be eligible for compensation when all of the following requirements are met: (a) The person for whom compensation is being sought is any of the following: (1) A victim. (2) A derivative victim. (3) (A) A person who is entitled to reimbursement for funeral, burial, or crime scene cleanup expenses pursuant to paragraph (9) of subdivision (a) of Section 13957." California Government Code Section 13951 defines (c) "Derivative victim" as an individual who sustains pecuniary loss as a result of injury or death to a victim and "Victim" as an individual who sustains injury or death as a direct result of a crime as specified in subdivision (e) of Section 13955."
7 California Government Code Section 13956 (a) provides: "Notwithstanding Section 13955, a person shall not be eligible for compensation under the following conditions: (a) An application shall be denied if the board finds that the victim or, where compensation is sought by or on behalf of a derivative victim, either the victim or derivative victim, knowingly and willingly participated in the commission of the crime that resulted in the pecuniary loss for which compensation is being sought pursuant to this chapter. However, this subdivision shall not apply if the injury or death occurred as a direct result of a crime committed in violation of Section 261, 262, or 273.5 of, or a crime of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor committed in violation of subdivision (d) of Section 261.5 of, the Penal Code.
8 California Government Code Section 13956 (b) through (c) provides: "(b) (1) An application shall be denied if the board finds that the victim or, where compensation is sought by, or on behalf of, a derivative victim, either the victim or derivative victim failed to cooperate reasonably with a law enforcement agency in the apprehension and conviction of a criminal committing the crime. However, in determining whether cooperation has been reasonable, the board shall consider the victim's or derivative victim's age, physical condition, and psychological state, cultural or linguistic barriers, any compelling health and safety concerns, including, but not limited to, a reasonable fear of retaliation or harm that would jeopardize the well-being of the victim or the victim's family or the derivative victim or the derivative victim's family, and giving due consideration to the degree of cooperation of which the victim or derivative victim is capable in light of the presence of any of these factors. (2) An application for a claim based on domestic violence may not be denied solely because no police report was made by the victim. The board shall adopt guidelines that allow the board to consider and approve applications for assistance based on domestic violence relying upon evidence other than a police report to establish that a domestic violence crime has occurred. Factors evidencing that a domestic violence crime has occurred may include, but are not limited to, medical records documenting injuries consistent with allegations of domestic violence, mental health records, or the fact that the victim has obtained a temporary or permanent restraining order, or all of these. (3) An application for a claim based on human trafficking as defined in Section 236.1 of the Penal Code may not be denied solely because no police report was made by the victim. The board shall adopt guidelines that allow the board to consider and approve applications for assistance based on human trafficking relying upon evidence other than a police report to establish that a human trafficking crime as defined in Section 236.1 has occurred. That evidence may include any reliable corroborating information approved by the board, including, but not limited to, the following: (A) A Law Enforcement Agency Endorsement issued pursuant to Section 236.2 of the Penal Code. (B) A human trafficking caseworker as identified in Section 1038.2 of the Evidence Code, has attested by affidavit that the individual was a victim of human trafficking. (c) An application for compensation may be denied, in whole or in part, if the board finds that denial is appropriate because of the nature of the victim's or other applicant's involvement in the events leading to the crime or the involvement of the persons whose injury or death gives rise to the application. In the case of a minor, the board shall consider the minor's age, physical condition, and psychological state, as well as any compelling health and safety concerns, in determining whether the minor's application should be denied pursuant to this section. The application of a derivative victim of domestic violence under the age of 18 years of age or a derivative victim of trafficking under 18 years of age may not be denied on the basis of the denial of the victim's application under this subdivision."
9 California Government Code Section 13956 (d) provides: "Notwithstanding Section 13955, no person who is convicted of a felony may be granted compensation until that person has been discharged from probation or has been released from a correctional institution and has been discharged from parole, if any. In no case shall compensation be granted to an applicant pursuant to this chapter during any period of time the applicant is held in a correctional institution. (2) A person who has been convicted of a felony may apply for compensation pursuant to this chapter at any time, but the award of that compensation may not be considered until the applicant meets the requirements for compensation set forth in paragraph (1). (3) Applications of victims who are not felons shall receive priority in the award of compensation over an application submitted by a felon who has met the requirements for compensation set forth in paragraph (1)."
10 California Government Code Section 13953 provides: "(a) An application for compensation shall be filed within one year of the date of the crime, one year after the victim attains 18 years of age, or one year of the time the victim or derivative victim knew or in the exercise of ordinary diligence could have discovered that an injury or death had been sustained as a direct result of crime, whichever is later. An application based on any crime eligible for prosecution under Section 801.1 of the Penal Code may be filed any time prior to the victim's 28th birthday. (b) The board may for good cause grant an extension of the time period in subdivision (a). In making this determination, the board may consider any relevant factors, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (1) A recommendation from the prosecuting attorney regarding the victim's or derivative victim's cooperation with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney in the apprehension and prosecution of the person charged with the crime. (2) Whether particular events occurring during the prosecution or in the punishment of the person convicted of the crime have resulted in the victim or derivative victim incurring pecuniary loss. (3) Whether the nature of the crime is such that a delayed reporting of the crime is reasonably excusable. (c) The period prescribed in this section for filing an application by or on behalf of a derivative victim shall be tolled when the board accepts the application filed by a victim of the same qualifying crime."
11 California Government Code Section 13959 provides: "(a) The board shall grant a hearing to an applicant who believes he or she is entitled to compensation pursuant to this chapter to contest a staff recommendation to deny compensation in whole or in part. (b) The board shall notify the applicant not less than 10 days prior to the date of the hearing. Notwithstanding Section 11123, if the application that the board is considering involves either a crime against a minor, a crime of sexual assault, or a crime of domestic violence, the board may exclude from the hearing all persons other than board members and members of its staff, the applicant for benefits, a minor applicant's parents or guardians, the applicant's representative, witnesses, and other persons of the applicant's choice to provide assistance to the applicant during the hearing. However, the board shall not exclude persons from the hearing if the applicant or applicant's representative requests that the hearing be open to the public. (c) At the hearing, the person seeking compensation shall have the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, the elements for eligibility under Section 13955. (d) Except as otherwise provided by law, in making determinations of eligibility for compensation and in deciding upon the amount of compensation, the board shall apply the law in effect as of the date an application was submitted. (e) The hearing shall be informal and need not be conducted according to the technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. The board may rely on any relevant evidence if it is the sort of evidence on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of a common law or statutory rule that might make improper the admission of the evidence over objection in a civil action. The board may rely on written reports prepared for the board, or other information received, from public agencies responsible for investigating the crime. If the applicant or the applicant's representative chooses not to appear at the hearing, the board may act solely upon the application for compensation, the staff's report, and other evidence that appears in the record. (f) Hearings shall be held in various locations with the frequency necessary to provide for the speedy adjudication of the applications. If the applicant's presence is required at the hearing, the board shall schedule the applicant's hearing in as convenient a location as possible. (g) The board may delegate the hearing of applications to hearing officers. (h) The decisions of the board shall be in writing. Copies of the decisions shall be delivered to the applicant or to his or her representative personally or sent to him or her by mail. (i) The board may order a reconsideration of all or part of a decision on written request of the applicant. The board shall not grant more than one request for reconsideration with respect to any one decision on an application for compensation. The board shall not consider any request for reconsideration filed with the board more than 30 calendar days after the personal delivery or 60 calendar days after the mailing of the original decision. (j) The board may order a reconsideration of all or part of a decision on its own motion, at its discretion, at any time."
12 California Government Code Section 13957 provides: "(a) The board may grant for pecuniary loss, when the board determines it will best aid the person seeking compensation, as follows: (1) Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 13957.2, reimburse the amount of medical or medical-related expenses incurred by the victim, including, but not limited to, eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, or any prosthetic device taken, lost, or destroyed during the commission of the crime, or the use of which became necessary as a direct result of the crime. (2) Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 13957.2, reimburse the amount of outpatient psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling-related expenses incurred by the victim or derivative victim, including peer counseling services provided by a rape crisis center as defined by Section 13837 of the Penal Code, and including family psychiatric, psychological, or mental health counseling for the successful treatment of the victim provided to family members of the victim in the presence of the victim, whether or not the family member relationship existed at thetime of the crime, that became necessary as a direct result of the crime, subject to the following conditions: (A) The following persons may be reimbursed for the expense of their outpatient mental health counseling in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000): (i) A victim. (ii) A derivative victim who is the surviving parent, sibling, child, spouse, fianc�, or fianc�e of a victim of a crime that directly resulted in the death of the victim. (iii) A derivative victim, as described in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, of subdivision (c) of Section 13955, who is the primary caretaker of a minor victim whose claim is not denied or reducedpursuant to Section 13956 in a total amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for not more than two derivative victims. (B) The following persons may be reimbursed for the expense of their outpatient mental health counseling in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000): (i) A derivative victim not eligible for reimbursement pursuant to subparagraph (A), provided that mental health counseling of a derivative victim described in paragraph (5) of subdivision (c) of Section 13955, shall be reimbursed only if that counseling is necessary for the treatment of the victim. (ii) A victim of a crime of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor committed in violation of subdivision (d) of Section 261.5 of the Penal Code. A derivative victim of a crime committed in violation of subdivision (d) of Section 261.5 of the Penal Code shall not be eligible for reimbursement of mental health counseling expenses. (iii) A minor who suffers emotional injury as a direct result of witnessing a violent crime and who is not eligible for reimbursement of the costs of outpatient mental health counseling under any other provision of this chapter. To be eligible for reimbursement under this clause, the minor must have been in close proximity to the victim when he or she witnessed the crime. (C) The board may reimburse a victim or derivative victim for outpatient mental health counseling in excess of that authorized by subparagraph (A) or (B) or for inpatient psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling if the claim is based on dire or exceptional circumstances that require more extensive treatment, as approved by the board. (D) Expenses for psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling-related services may be reimbursed only if the services were provided by either of the following individuals: (i) A person who would have been authorized to provide those services pursuant to former Article 1 (commencing with Section 13959) as it read on January 1, 2002. (ii) A person who is licensed by the state to provide those services, or who is properly supervised by a person who is so licensed, subject to the board's approval and subject to the limitations and restrictions the board may impose. (3) Reimburse the expenses of nonmedical remedial care and treatment rendered in accordance with a religious method of healing recognized by state law. (4) Subject to the limitations set forth in Section 13957.5, authorize compensation equal to the loss of income or loss of support, or both, that a victim or derivative victim incurs as a direct result of the victim's or derivative victim's injury or the victim's death. If the victim or derivative victim requests that the board give priority to reimbursement of loss of income or support, the board may not pay medical expenses, or mental health counseling expenses, except upon the request of the victim or derivative victim or after determining that payment of these expenses will not decrease the funds available for payment of loss of income or support. (5) Authorize a cash payment to or on behalf of the victim for job retraining or similar employment-oriented services. (6) Reimburse the claimant for the expense of installing or increasing residential security, not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000). Reimbursement shall be made either upon verification by law enforcement that the security measures are necessary for the personal safety of the claimant or verification by a mental health treatment provider that the security measures are necessary for the emotional well-being of the claimant. For purposes of this paragraph, a claimant is the crime victim, or, if the victim is deceased, a person who resided with the deceased at the time of the crime. Installing or increasing residential security may include, but need not be limited to, both of the following: (A) Home security device or system. (B) Replacing or increasing the number of locks. (7) Reimburse the expense of renovating or retrofitting a victim's residence or a vehicle, or both, to make the residence, the vehicle, or both, accessible or the vehicle operational by a victim upon verification that the expense is medically necessary for a victim who is permanently disabled as a direct result of the crime, whether the disability is partial or total. (8) (A) Authorize a cash payment or reimbursement not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000) to a victim for expenses incurred in relocating, if the expenses are determined by law enforcement to be necessary for the personal safety of the victim or by a mental health treatment provider to be necessary for the emotional well-being of the victim. (B) The cash payment or reimbursement made under this paragraph shall only be awarded to one claimant per crime giving rise to the relocation. The board may authorize more than one relocation per crime if necessary for the personal safety or emotional well-being of the claimant. However, the total cash payment or reimbursement for all relocations due to the same crime shall not exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000). For purposes of this paragraph a claimant is the crime victim, or, if the victim is deceased, a person who resided with the deceased at the time of the crime. (C) The board may, under compelling circumstances, award a second cash payment or reimbursement to a victim for another crime if both of the following conditions are met: (i) The crime occurs more than three years from the date of the crime giving rise to the initial relocation cash payment or reimbursement. (ii) The crime does not involve the same offender. (D) When a relocation payment or reimbursement is provided to a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence and the identity of the offender is known to the victim, the victim shall agree not to inform the offender of the location of the victim's new residence and not to allow the offender on the premises at any time, or shallagree to seek a restraining order against the offender. (E) Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), the board may increase the cash payment or reimbursement for expenses incurred in relocating to an amount greater than two thousand dollars ($2,000), if the board finds this amount is appropriate due to the unusual, dire, or exceptional circumstances of a particular claim. (9) When a victim dies as a result of a crime, the board may reimburse any individual who voluntarily, and without anticipation of personal gain, pays or assumes the obligation to pay any of the following expenses: (A) The medical expenses incurred as a direct result of the crime in an amount not to exceed the rates or limitations established by the board. (B) The funeral and burial expenses incurred as a direct result of the crime, not to exceed seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500). (10) When the crime occurs in a residence, the board may reimburse any individual who voluntarily, and without anticipation of personal gain, pays or assumes the obligation to pay the reasonable costs to clean the scene of the crime in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000). Services reimbursed pursuant to this subdivision shall be performed by persons registered with the State Department of Public Health as trauma scene waste practitioners in accordance with Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 118321) of Part 14 of Division 104 of the Health and Safety Code. (11) Reimburse the licensed child care expenses necessarily incurred by a victim or derivative victim as a direct result of a crime that resulted in physical injury or death, if the following conditions are met: (A) The injured or deceased victim was a primary caregiver for the victim's dependent children. (B) The total reimbursement for all child care expenses does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000). The board shall have the ability to set a lower reimbursement amount if necessary to protect the solvency of the Restitution Fund. (C) The periods of time for which child care expenses may be reimbursed do not exceed a total of 180 days. The time periods need not be continuous. (D) The child care expenses are consistent with the usual and customary rates charged by the child care provider for other children in the provider's care. If the provider only cares for the victim's children, the reimbursement rate shall not exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per week for one child or four hundred dollars ($400) per week for two or more children subject to the limit in subparagraph (E). (E) No victim or derivative victim may receive reimbursement for child care expenses in addition to reimbursement subject to paragraph (4). (F) This paragraph is a pilot program and shall be operative only until January 1, 2010. (b) The total award to or on behalf of each victim or derivative victim may not exceed thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), except that this amount may be increased to seventy thousand dollars ($70,000) if federal funds for that increase are available."