If you have been victimized by violent crime, you may be 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.
We can also help you if you need to:
- File a California civil lawsuit to recover damages from a crime, or
- Apply for victim restitution from the California criminal court after the person who injured you has been convicted.
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.
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 the 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 YouTube 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.
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Victim’s Services
Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Victim Information and Notification Everyday
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 a 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.