Who is a victim of crime

Definition of a victim

A victim is defined as a person who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as a result of a crime. The rights are available to a victim who is in Canada or who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

The following people can exercise a victim’s rights if the victim is dead or not able to act on his or her own behalf:

  • A victim’s spouse
  • A common law partner who has lived with the victim for at least one year prior to the victim’s death
  • A relative or dependant of the victim
  • Anyone who has custody of the victim or of the victim’s dependant

A person who has been charged, convicted, or found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for the offence that resulted in the victimization is not defined as a victim. For example, if a parent has been charged with abuse of a child, that parent will not be allowed to exercise the child victim’s rights or their own rights as a parent.

Victims of Crime

Until the 1970s victims of crimes were often forgotten by the criminal justice system. As a result, victims sometimes came to believe that they had fewer rights than the criminals who had injured them. In addition, some victims became so alienated from the criminal justice process that prosecutors had difficulty persuading them to testify at trial. This environment began to change in the 1970s with the establishment of victim compensation funds. Not until the 1980s, however, did a national movement for "victims' rights" spark wholesale changes in the criminal justice system.

Right to Sue

Victims have always had the right to sue for money damages a person who injures them during a criminal act. For most crime victims, however, this solution has generally not proved practical because victims frequently do not know who committed the crime against them and the criminals are not always apprehended. Even when a criminal is available to be sued, the victim may not have adequate funds to pay for a lawsuit, or the criminal may have no money to pay damages if the victim is successful.

Victim Compensation Laws

During the 1970s many states enacted victim compensation statutes, which authorize payment of money from the public treasury to crime victims so that they are not forced to bear the full burden of the crime. Although compensation can be provided for lost earnings, medical expenses, and the replacement of missing property, the majority of plans do not replace every dollar lost.

Most compensation plans provide benefits only to victims who have low income or few resources, although some plans allow anyone who is an innocent victim or did not contribute to the cause of her injuries to receive benefits. Some plans pay benefits only to victims who are physically injured or to the families of victims who are killed.

An individual who wishes to apply for crime victim compensation must do so promptly after the injury. Ordinarily, this is done by filling out a form provided by the state official or victim compensation board responsible for administering the program. States generally will not consider applications filed later than a specified period after the crime.

Financial Assistance

Every state has a crime victim or criminal injuries compensation program to help pay some of the out-of-pocket expenses for victims of crime. Most programs are limited to victims of violent crimes, but some programs will also pay the counseling costs for victims of major financial crimes. Every state sets limits on the overall amount that can be paid to a victim and on the amount paid for each type of expense.  Victim compensation only pays where there is not insurance coverage or some other type of payment available. Need Help Contact the Edusafe A.C.E. Resource Center by phone at 1-866.594.8884 for more information or assistance in locating services.

What expenses does Crime Victim Compensation cover?

Victim compensation programs will often pay for the following expenses after a crime has occurred:

  • Medical or dental costs
  • Counseling
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral or burial expenses in cases of homicide

Victim compensation usually does not cover the following:

  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering

What are the requirements to be eligible for Crime Victims Compensation?

In order to be eligible, most programs require that victims:

  • Report the crime to police within a certain amount of time following the crime
  • Cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of the case (this requirement may be minimal in some sexual or domestic violence cases)
  • File a compensation claim within a certain amount of time
  • Have no responsibility for the crime being committed
  • In cases of homicide or in certain other cases, family members of the victim may be eligible for counseling or other benefits.

What documents are needed to apply for compensation?

  • Police Report or appropriate court orders/petitions
  • Medical bills
  • Mental health counseling bills
  • Verification of employment

Please note that other information may also be requested to support your claim.

What Can I do?

  • File a Claim – Victims and survivors may file a claim in the state where the crime occurred. Some states also provide compensation to their residents even if the crime occurred in another state or outside the country.
  • Use an Advocate for Support – You may find it helpful to have the assistance of a crime victim advocate to help you through the process of filing a claim. Advocates are often available in the county prosecutor’s office or in the offices of local victim support service providers.
  • Look for Other Means of Emergency Assistance – Victims Compensation is not a source of immediate or emergency funding. Look to local social service agencies or churches if you are in need of crisis funding.

Contact the Edusafe A.C.E. Resource Center by phone at 1-866.594.8884 for more information or assistance in locating services.