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Victim Services - Texas Crime Victims' Rights

 

If you are the victim of sexual assault, kidnapping or aggravated robbery, or if you have suffered bodily injury as the result of another's crime, or if you are the close relative or guardian of a deceased victim, you have the right:


Crime doesn't pay, but in Texas, criminals do. Texas courts collect court costs from convicted offenders for the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. If you are a victim of violent crime, you may be eligible for benefits.

Eligibility, Benefits, and Applications.

Please read the following information carefully before filling out the Crime Victims' Compensation Application. Victims of violence and their families must deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of crime. The Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund helps innocent victims and their families when they have no other means of paying for the financial cost of crime. The Fund is administered by the Crime Victims' Compensation Program of the Office of the Attorney General. The money in the Fund comes from people who break the law.

BASIC QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Residency

  • The crime must occur in Texas to a Texas resident or a United States resident, or
  • the crime must involve a Texas resident who becomes a victim in another state or country that does not have crime victims' compensation benefits for which the victim would be eligible.

Reporting the Crime

  • The crime must be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency within a reasonable period of time, but not so late as to interfere with or hamper the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

Filing for Compensation (TCCP, Art.56.37.)

  • You must file the application within three years from the date of the crime. The time may be extended for good cause, including the age of the victim or the physical or mental incapacity of the victim.

Cooperation (TCCP, Art.56.45.)

  • A claim may be denied or reduced if the claimant or victim has not cooperated with the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Who May Qualify (TCCP, Art.56.32.)

  • An innocent victim of crime who suffers physical and/or emotional harm or death
  • An authorized individual acting on behalf of a victim
  • A person who legally assumes the obligations or voluntarily pays certain expenses related to the crime on behalf of the
  • Victim a dependent of a victim
  • An immediate family member or household members related by blood or marriage who require psychiatric care or counseling as a result of the crime
  • An intervenor who goes to the aid of the victim or a peace officer
  • A peace officer, fire fighter, or individual whose employment includes the duty of protecting the public

What Crimes Are Covered (TCCP, Art.56.32.(4))

  • Crimes involving "criminally injurious conduct," which is defined as conduct that occurs or is attempted, poses a substantial threat of personal injury or death and is, or would be, punishable by fine, imprisonment or death. This includes sex offenses, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, assaultive offenses, arson, homicide and other violent crimes in which the victim suffers physical or emotional harm or death.
  • The following motor-vehicle-related crimes are also covered: Failure to Stop and Render Aid, DWI, Manslaughter, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Aggravated Assault, Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault.

Who Is Not Eligible

  • Benefits may be reduced or denied if the behavior of the victim contributed to the crime. Benefits shall be denied if the victim or claimant:
    • knowingly or willingly participated in the crime
    • is the offender or accomplice of the offender
    • was incarcerated in a penal institution or on probation or parole for a felony involving criminally injurious conduct at the time of the crime
    • knowingly or intentionally submits false or forged information to the Attorney General
  • An award of compensation to the claimant or victim will be denied if it would benefit the offender or an accomplice of the offender.

What Expenses Are Eligible

  • Claims may be approved for benefits up to a total of $50,000. These funds may be paid to the victim/claimant or to service providers on behalf of the victim. Approved claims may be awarded compensation for the following expenses related to the crime:
    • medical, hospital, physical therapy or nursing care
    • psychiatric care or counseling
    • loss of earnings or support
    • loss of wages due to participation in, or attendance at, the investigation, prosecutorial and judicial processes, and travel
    • care of a child or a dependent
    • funeral and burial expenses
    • crime scene clean-up
    • replacement costs for clothing, bedding, or property seized as evidence or rendered unusable as a result of the investigation
    • reasonable attorney fees for assistance in filing the Crime Victims' Compensation application and in obtaining benefits, if the claim is approved
    • loss of wages and travel to seek medical treatment
    • one time relocation expenses for domestic violence victims
  • In the case of catastrophic injuries resulting in a total and permanent disability, the victim may be eligible for $50,000 in benefits for:
    • making a home or car accessible
    • job training and vocational rehabilitation
    • training in the use of special appliances
    • home health care
    • reimbursement of lost wages

Reimbursement for property damage or theft is not an eligible expense.

Other Sources

The Crime Victims' Compensation Fund is the "payer of last resort." It is a secondary source that pays for certain out-of-pocket expenses the victim would be responsible for as a result of the crime. Any other available resources would have to pay before any payment by the Crime Victims' Compensation program.

The staff at Crime Victims' Compensation will work with victims and claimants to make sure all available resources, including the Fund, work in the best interest of victims.

If, as a part of a criminal sentence, the court orders an offender to make restitution to the victim for an expense which Crime Victims' Compensation has already paid, the victim may be required to reimburse the Fund.

If the victim or claimant recovers money as a settlement in a civil suit against the offender or a third party, the victim or claimant may have to reimburse the Fund for expenses already paid by the Fund.

How to Apply

Every law enforcement agency in Texas is required to provide victims of crime with information about the Crime Victims' Compensation program and an application. Applications are also available at the prosecutor's offices. Their victim assistance coordinators are required to provide assistance to victims who ask for help filling out the form. Hospitals and medical centers may also have applications.

You may also get an application directly from the Crime Victims' Compensation Program in the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-800-983-9933.

Or you may download and fill out the Online Application and mail it in.

Application Review

After receiving an application and related documentation, including a complete offense report, the Attorney General's Crime Victims' Compensation Program reviews the information to see if the crime, the victim and/or claimant are eligible for the program. This process involves verifying all the information presented in the application. Witnesses to the crime, law enforcement officers and prosecutors involved in investigating and prosecuting the crime, physicians, counselors, hospitals, and employers may be contacted for additional information. A decision about whether the victim or claimant is eligible is usually made within 45 days. A staff member is then assigned to the case and works with the victim or claimant to review expenses incurred as a result of the crime and determine which ones are eligible for reimbursement or payment.

Your Right to Appeal

If the Crime Victims' Compensation Program makes a decision with which the victim or claimant disagrees, the victim or the claimant has a right under the law to ask that the decision be reconsidered. The victim or claimant must notify the Crime Victims' Compensation Program of the reason for their dissatisfaction and provide additional information in this reconsideration process. If the outcome of the reconsideration process is not satisfactory, the victim or claimant may request a final ruling hearing from the Crime Victims' Compensation Program. If the victim or claimant does not agree with the outcome of the final ruling, an appeal may be made to district court.

 
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