Victim compensation is a type of monetary restitution provided by certain governmental entities to people injured by violent personal crimes. The money used typically comes from the collection of fines and fees assessed in court cases rather than from a tax allocation on the general populace. These types of compensation funds have eligibility guidelines, application procedures, and a minimum and maximum allowable award that are substantially similar across jurisdictions.
Many democratized countries provide support to victims of violent crime as a matter of public policy. Courts in these countries collect all manner of fees and fines for legal infractions that generate millions of dollars every year. Instead of funneling all of that money elsewhere, a part of it is set aside in a victim compensation fund to provide money to people who have suffered personal injury as a result of certain types of crimes. Countries such as Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US all have compensation funds with similar policies and procedures.
To be eligible for compensation, a person has to have been a victim of certain types of violent crime, typically including assault, rape, robbery, domestic abuse, child abuse, or drunk driving. A person can also be eligible if he is a surviving family member of a murder victim. Once a person qualifies as a victim of a crime covered by the fund, he has to demonstrate that he has suffered a personal injury or emotional distress. Victim compensation funds rarely cover any type of property damage.
Funds will ordinarily cover certain types of expenses related to personal injury and emotional distress, such as the costs of medical care and mental health counseling, compensation for lost wages and support, and funeral expenses. To access these funds, a victim has to submit an application to the governmental entity that administers the fund. In the UK, for example, there is a region-wide entity called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) that administers the country’s victim compensation fund. The US allows each state to manage its own fund, and an application would be submitted to the state where the crime occurred.
There is no requirement that the criminal who committed the crime has to have been apprehended or convicted for the victim to collect under the fund. The application procedure typically only requires the victim to have reported the crime in a timely manner, cooperated with the police in the investigation, not have been guilty of any wrongdoing in the matter, and have submitted the application within the jurisdiction’s prescribed time period for eligibility. If the victim is eligible and submits a timely application, his award can be as much as $25,000 US Dollars (USD) or more, depending upon the jurisdiction.