New Jersey's Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) has a fund to help with costs related to injuries suffered by innocent victims of violent crime or their families. The crimes covered include assault, child abuse, homicide, domestic violence, kidnapping, hit and run, and sexual assault.
Who is eligible for assistance from the VCCO?
- A victim of a violent crime who has suffered physical injury or mental trauma
- A surviving spouse, parent, guardian, or other person who is dependent for support on a victim who has died as a result of a crime
- A person injured while trying to prevent a crime
- A person injured while trying to assist a police officer in making an arrest.
Who is not eligible for assistance?
- A victim who lives outside of New Jersey
- A victim of a crime committed in a state other than New Jersey
- A victim who did not sustain personal injury or mental trauma
- A victim who does not cooperate with law enforcement
- A victim who was in jail when the crime occurred
- A victim who contributed to the crime
- A victim who was engaging in illegal activity at the time of the crime
- A victim of a motor vehicle or boating accident (with certain exceptions).
What kinds of compensation benefits are available from the VCCO?
- Medically related expenses
- Loss of earnings in personal injury cases
- Loss of support from the victim for dependants in homicide cases
- Limited transportation costs
- Mental health counseling
- Limited domestic service, child care, day care, and after-school care costs up to $6,500
- Loss of earnings for a surviving spouse whose earning capacity has been reduced
- Loss of support from the offender in domestic violence cases
- Loss of prescription eyeglasses
- Crime scene cleanup of up to $2,000
- Relocation expenses of up to $2,500
- Emergency financial assistance of up to $1,500.
The VCCO will pay crime-related expenses only after a victim or eligible person applies to other sources such as State disability insurance, workers compensation, etc.
The VCCO generally does not compensate for property loss or pain and suffering.
What are the requirements to apply for reimbursement from the VCCO?
A person wishing to apply for reimbursement from the VCCO must:
- Complete and submit a VCCO application two years or less from the date of the crime.
- Report the crime to law enforcement within three months.
An applicant should also supply these additional documents if possible:
- A police report
- Copies of bills or other documentation of expenses
- Copies of any documents related to insurance.
The application should be filed within two years of the date that the crime was committed. The maximum benefit available is $25,000 per victim.
What can I do if my application is denied?
A victim may appeal if an application for assistance is denied. The appeal must be made within 20 days of receiving the denial. The victim will then be scheduled for a hearing. After the hearing, the victim may file a formal appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
How do I get an application for compensation from the VCCO?
Applications are available at each county prosecutor’s office. For more information and for a statewide list of prosecutor’s offices, visit the VCCO Web site.
The VCCO Web site contains other important information relating to services for victims, including the VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday) program, which allows victims access to information about whether or not their assailant has been released from jail.
You may also call the VCCO at 1-877-658-2221.
This article appeared in the May 2008 edition of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.
This information last reviewed 2/17/11.