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EVAWI > Resources > Forensic Compliance > FAQs > Crime Victim Compensation
Forensic Compliance Frequently Asked Questions

Note: The information on this website is designed to: (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation. The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013. For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice.

Q Can Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) funds be used to pay for forensic exams?
Q Does Crime Victim Compensation cover non-medical expenses?
Q Can victims remain anonymous when accessing Crime Victim Compensation funds?
A Can Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) funds be used to pay for forensic exams?

In response to the VAWA forensic compliance provisions, some states began using crime victim compensation (CVC) funds to cover the cost of a medical forensic exam when the victim has not yet decided whether to participate in the criminal justice process.

CVC programs are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories, yet their eligibility requirements can be problematic for meeting the goals of forensic compliance. For example, federal CVC guidelines require that programs must promote victim cooperation with the reasonable requests of law enforcement authorities. To meet this objective, most states require victims to report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours to be eligible for reimbursement through the CVC program. Additionally, all state requirements say that victims are ineligible for CVC funds if they contributed to their injury or victimization through wrongful conduct or provocation. Given how frequently victims are drinking underage or using recreational drugs at the time of the sexual assault, this may disqualify many from CVC eligibility. Another example is the victim who is sexually assaulted by an intimate partner who is also physically abusive. If the victim engaged in defensive or even retaliatory physical violence, this may similarly preclude CVC eligibility.

Given these concerns, states that utilize CVC funds to pay for medical forensic exams must evaluate their statutory and administrative rules governing eligibility and, at the very least, make exceptions for sexual assault victims who obtain a medical forensic exam. If these eligibility requirements disqualify payment for exams, either because victims are not initially participating in the criminal justice process or are seen as having “contributed” to their sexual assault, this would not be seen as compliant with the forensic compliance provisions of VAWA.
A Does Crime Victim Compensation cover non-medical expenses?

CVC programs are also often used to compensate victims for financial losses resulting from crimes. This can include the costs of medical care (beyond the forensic exam), counseling fees, and lost earnings. These issues are largely outside the scope of the VAWA forensic compliance provisions, which pertain only to medical forensic exams. Therefore, these eligibility requirements could remain in place for this aspect of the CVC program and not create a compliance problem with VAWA.

However, this is another example where the letter of the law may be met while not honoring the spirit of the law. Given that the purpose of the VAWA forensic compliance provisions was to increase victim reporting and access to the criminal justice system, eliminating such financial barriers can go a long way toward meeting the spirit of the law and improving both access and outcomes for victims.
A Can victims remain anonymous when accessing Crime Victim Compensation funds?

There is a legitimate concern that accessing CVC in cases where the victim has not yet elected to participate in the criminal justice system could compromise their anonymity. It is therefore critical for professionals involved in sexual assault response to identify whether CVC is used as a payment mechanism for medical forensic exams, and if so, determine what specific statutes, eligibility requirements and administrative procedures are associated with the program.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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