Financial Assistance For Crime Victims: The Michigan Crime Victims Rights Act & Compensation FUND
Category: Public Policy
The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) enacted by the U.S. Congress, therefore, established state-level Crime Victims Funds across the country as a reparations program to financially compensate individuals and families who suffer as a result of felony offenses above and beyond the judicial punishment of the criminal.
The law was expanded in Michigan by the Criminal Assessments Act of 1988 to include rights for victims of serious misdemeanors and juvenile offenses
Crimes compensated by the Crime Victims Rights Act vary by state to include:
Crime Victim Compensation programs are available in all U.S. States, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) but are funded by the restitution payments (fines and penalties) of federally-convicted criminals.
No federal or state tax dollars are used to fund the program.
Crime Victim Services Funding and Allocations
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, in September 2013, the fund balance for crime victims services had reached $9 billion dollars in deposits from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties, and special assessments.
Victims services and programs are also funded by gifts and private donations. Due to large fluctuating deposits, the U.S. Congress imposed a cap on funding distributions in 2000 to ensure that the Fund remained a stable source for future services to crime victims.
In FY2013, funding allocations was capped at $730 million.
Funds are disseminated between states in the form of grants from the U.S. Department of Justice based on spending for crime victim services by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported on annual certification forms.
According to the Lansing State Journal (January 2018), Michigan received $5.6 million in funding for the past three (3) years for payments and support services to crime victims.
VOCA Program Administration in Michigan
The Michigan Crime Victim Services Commission (CVSC) is a state agency within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) which handles funding and services for victims of crimes through the Crime Victims Compensation Board. See the Crime Victim Compensation Section for program and contact information.
Service Programs within the Crime Victim Services Commission (CVSC):
Crime Victim Compensation (VOCA) Legislation in Michigan
The Crime Victims Compensation Act - PA 223 of 1976 (M.C.L. 18.351 to 18.368) established the Crime Victims Compensation Board responsible for the reimbursement of expenses associated with personal injury resulting from acts of crime. Program eligibility and coverage was expanded up to $25,000 in basic financial assistance in expenses accrued by individuals and/or their families when physically victimized by criminals.
To file a claim for reimbursement, you must use the Commission’s application form (a link is provided below) and you are entitled to a copy of compensation rules upon request.
VOCA Claim Filing Rules and Payment Limitations:
The following rules and limitations are not exhaustive. Please refer to the link below to the Crime Victims Compensation Act of 1976 for a full review of the legislation.
VOCA Claim Filing Limitations
Victims of crime must file a claim within one (1) year from the date of injury or one (1) year from the time of discovery that the cause of injury was criminal.
Victims do not always immediately recognize that certain acts are criminal such as in domestic violence situations and may consider the injury as natural or accidental. In such cases, the victim may file a claim for cause at the time of discovery for a criminal act.
Claims for child abuse should be filed within one (1) year from the date of reporting to the police and before the child’s 19th birthday.
"Good Cause" Rules for Filing Late VOCA Claims
Claims may be accepted late for “good cause.” The claimant must submit a written request to be considered for approval after the one (1) year time frame.
“Good cause” may be considered for the following reasons:
Claimants may file a claim immediately after injury and are not required to wait for an investigation, trial or prosecution to be completed.
If a claim is denied you must submit a written request for appeal within thirty (30) days. Appeals can be requested in the form of a review of the file or a hearing before the Commission in Lansing.
Applications are available with the Crime Victim’s Service Commission, prosecuting attorney’s office, victim assistance service agencies, the state police, and other care providers.
A list of Crime Victim’s Service Agencies is available in the Community Resources section of this site and a link is provided to the application below.
General Summary of VOCA Benefits and Limitations
The Michigan Crime Victim Compensation Fund will cover funeral and burial expenses for fatally injured victims, pecuniary damages such as the loss of financial support for legally-dependent and unborn children of fatally injured victims, grief counseling for the family, hospital and medical bills if survivors are legally obligated for payment.
The Fund does not cover the loss or damage of property, pain and suffering, relocation and living expenses, or costs to attend or participate in a trial. The loss of earnings for the victim’s family members are also ineligible for reimbursement.
Tips for Filing a Michigan Crime Victim Compensation Application
How long does it take to get crime victims compensation?
Once a claim is filed, the application is examined for completeness and the prosecuting attorney is notified. The application is assigned a claim number and police reports are requested by a claim specialist.
The time frame to process an application depends on the completeness and accuracy of the application and how long it takes to receive police reports and other documents required to investigate.
Incomplete applications will be returned with a request for additional information needed to process the claim.
Claimants are notified in writing of the Commission’s findings and a claim determination.
What happens if a claim is approved for crime victims compensation?
If a claim is approved, claimants will receive an itemized list of payments and payments will begin within a few days.
Monies owed to medical providers will be paid to them directly.
Claims that are denied will be returned with a written explanation and the claimant has thirty (30) days to request an appeal.
The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB) maintains a website database with links to all state crime victim compensation programs. The links will provide specific information about each program’s benefits, requirements, and procedures for victim service-related claims.
In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Crime Victim Services Commission is responsible for the allocation of funds to participating community organizations and processing all reimbursement requests.
Below you will find a link to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Application and Checklist form.
Should I hire an attorney to file a crime victims compensation claim?
You may also consult an attorney to submit a claim. By law, attorney’s fees may not exceed 15% of the claimant’s award or 25% in cases involving judicial review unless otherwise waived by the Crime Victim Compensation Board.
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Death, Burial, and Crime Victim Assistance
Community Resources - Crime Victim Service Agencies
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB)
Crime Victim Compensation Application and Checklist
U.S. Department of Justice - Office for Victims of Crime
Crime Victim Compensation Brochure
About Crime Victim Compensation in Michigan
DHHS Bureau of Community Services – Crime Victims Services Commission
Feds Overpaid Michigan DHHS Nearly 260,000 in Crime Victims Funds, Audit Says
Crime Victims Compensation Act of 1976 (PA 223, Michigan Compiled Law 18.353)
Establishment of the Crime Victims Compensation Board (Crime Victims Service Commission)
Crime Victim Rights Fund/Criminal Assessment Instruction
For Community Organizations:
VOCA Guidelines, Program Grants, Application, and Regulation Information
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Welcome to The Community Advocate Network. My name is Deborah Mitchell, I am a graduate in Social Work and Registered Social Work Technician. My human service background began in 2007 which includes medical case management and service navigation for the indigent population, outpatient mental health counseling with substance use and abuse disorders, supportive employment and job development for mental health consumers, and structured living domicile management.