Crime Victim Information/Assistance
Being a victim of crime can be very hard and confusing. People may tell you things that you do not understand. You might not be able to remember things. This is all normal. The legal system can be very hard to understand.
There are people to help you! They are called “victim advocates.” They will help you for free, make things easier to understand, and answer your questions. They can help you in many other ways as well. Call them using the phone numbers on pages 8-9 to find out what they can do for you.
You may have heard that the person who committed the crime against you has “rights” under the law. You also have rights or things that must happen.
Some of them are:
* Be told about help you can get;
* Be told about court hearings and have someone be with you at them if you want;
* Be told if the person who committed the crime against you has been arrested;
* Be told if the person who committed the crime escapes;
* Tell how the crime has hurt you before the judge decides what happens to the person who committed the crime;
* Have anything taken from you returned when it is not needed anymore for court;
* Be told what happens at the end of your case;
* Be paid back by the person who committed the crime for money you lost.
There are many more “rights” that you have. They are listed on pages 5-7 of this book as they are written in the law. An advocate will be able to help you understand them and tell you which ones are for your case and which ones are not.
VICTIMS COMPENSATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
This program may be able to help by paying you back for money you had to pay or lost because of a crime. Compensation may be paid to you or others for medical expenses, counseling, lost work earnings, loss of support, funeral expenses, travel costs, childcare, stolen cash, relocation, the costs to cleanup a crime-scene and other expenses.
TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION*, YOU HAVE TO:
1. Be a victim of a crime that happened in Pennsylvania.
2. Report the crime or file a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) within three days.
3. Cooperate with the police, courts and the Victims Compensation Assistance Program.
4. File the claim within two years of the crime.
5. Not be involved in illegal activity that caused the crime to happen.
6. Lose at least $100 because of the crime (if you are less than 60 years old).
*There are exceptions to the above requirements (especially if the victim is younger than 18 years old)
This program will not reimburse you for:
* Pain and suffering.
* Stolen or damaged property (except some medical things).
REMEMBER, you or a family member may receive compensation even if you don’t meet all of the above requirements. To see if you may be eligible or for help in filing a claim, please contact the Victims Compensation Assistance Program at (800) 233-2339.
The best way to file a claim is with the help of a victim advocate at one of the places on pages 8-9. You can also file a claim by yourself on the Internet. Just go to www.pacrimevjctims.state.pa. and click on “Financial Help.”
There is no cost to file a claim!
WHAT YOU MUST DO
To get information about your case, you must give your address and telephone number to agencies that will assist you with your rights. You must also tell them if your address or telephone number changes. For child victims, the parent or legal guardian must do this. For a homicide, a surviving family member must do this. Only people who work for the police, district attorney (this may include Victim/Witness staff) or corrections department may see your address and telephone number. No one else will be given your address or telephone number unless you say it is okay in writing.