The California Victim Compensation Program (“CalVCP”) is a state fund that provides victims of violent crimes with financial resources to cope with the impact of the crime.
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
Crime victims also have the option 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, we will provide an overview of the California Victim Compensation Program.1 We cover:
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.
3 California Government Code Section 13900.
4 California Penal Code Section 1202.4(b).
6 California Government Code Section 13955.
7 California Government Code Section 13956 (a).
8 California Government Code Section 13956 (b) through (c).
9 California Government Code Section 13956 (d).
10 California Government Code Section 13953.
11 California Government Code Section 13959.
12 California Government Code Section 13957.