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Crime Victim Compensation

Crime victim compensation is a government program to reimburse victims of violent crimes- such as assault, homicide, rape, and, in some states, burglary - as well as their families for many of their out-of-pocket expenses. Every state has a crime victim compensation program.

For information about your state program, visit the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.


Crime victim compensation programs will generally pay for:
  • medical and dental expenses,
  • counseling costs,
  • funeral or burial expenses, and
  • lost wages or support.

Some states also cover such costs as financial counseling, crime scene cleanup, travel for medical treatment or court proceedings, or relocation expenses for victims who must move for their physical safety. Crime victim compensation programs have a maximum that will be paid for each claim, which varies from state to state and can range from $10,000 to $100,000. They also have limits on certain types of expenses, for example, limits on the amounts that can be paid for funeral or burial expenses, for counseling, or for medical expenses. Because it may take several weeks or months to process a claim for crime victim compensation, many states offer emergency awards, which are compensation payments of $500 to $1,000 to cover emergency expenses such as medications, food or shelter.


Victims: The direct victim of a violent crime is generally eligible for compensation. Some states only compensate victims who were physically injured in the course of the crime, while others also compensate victims of violent crime who were traumatized but not physically injured by the crime.

Family members: Families of homicide victims can get compensation to pay the medical bills and funeral or burial expenses, and to pay for counseling and loss of support. Some states will compensate family members in certain other types of cases, for example, paying for counseling for family members in cases of sexual assault, child abuse, or domestic violence. Most state compensation programs require that victims:

  • report the crime promptly to the police (the reporting time varies between states, and nearly all states have good exceptions for child victims, incapacitated victims, and other special circumstances);
  • cooperate with the police and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of the offense (the state may have a good exception for this requirement, too);
  • submit an application for compensation within a certain time (although the state make an exception for good ;
  • not have been committing a crime at the time (for example, someone cannot get compensation for being shot while drug dealing), or not have been involved in other serious misconduct that caused or contributed to the injury or death; and
  • have costs from the crime that are not covered by insurance or some other program, such as Workers' Compensation or Medicaid.

Compensation can be paid even when no one is arrested or convicted for the crime.


To apply for crime victim compensation, victims or families must file a claim form in the state where the crime occurred. The compensation program will then examine police records, receipts, and other information before deciding whether to pay a claim. For information about your state program, visit the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.

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Copyright 2003 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by photocopy or by any other means, without the expressed written permission of the National Center for Victims of Crime.