A law reforming Missouri’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program to make it simpler for victims to apply for assistance and which expands eligibility for compensation took effect Tuesday, Aug. 28. The changes include allowing victims more time to report the crimes committed against them and removing a cap on payments for counseling services provided to victims.
“These changes will significantly ease the burden victims must meet in order to apply for compensation and make more people eligible to receive reimbursement for the expenses they experience as a result of crime,” said Sandra K. Karsten, Acting Director of the Department of Public Safety. “The department’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program employees have been trained on the changes and have already implemented them to better serve crime victims.”
The changes to Missouri’s Crime Victims’ Compensation program are a result of House Bill 1355, which includes the following changes:
· Provides victims more time to report their crime by eliminating the requirement that the crime be reported within 48 hours.
· Allows compensation claims for continuing expenses to be paid beyond the previous three-year limit.
· Eliminates the requirement that victim application forms be notarized.
· Victims can now meet the requirement to report the crime through alternate methods. Also, sworn statement indicating the applicant believes he or she is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking and fears further violent acts from his or her assailant is now acceptable in lieu of other records.
· Eliminates previous $2,500 maximum payment per claim on expenses related to psychological or counseling expenses.
· Eliminates $50 minimum in expenses for a claim to be filed; eliminates $250 maximum loss for compensation for property seized by police as part of the crime investigation; and eliminates the requirement that applicants for reimbursement of lost wages must have missed at least two continuous weeks of employment.
· Allows victims who have previously been convicted of felony crimes to qualify for assistance. (Formerly, crime victims who had earlier been convicted of two felony crimes in the past 10 years, one or both of which involved violence or illegal drugs, were not eligible for compensation.)
The Crime Victims’ Compensation program caps benefits at a maximum of $25,000 and does not include payments for pain or suffering. The CVC program is a payer of last resort; it considers out- of-pocket losses and expenses not covered by other sources, including insurance, worker’s compensation, public assistance like Medicaid or Medicare, paid sick or annual leave, restitution or civil lawsuits.
The CVC program utilizes both federal and state funds. The federal funding source is the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, which is funded through fines and penalties paid by offenders. State funding utilizes fees and judgments assessed by state and municipal courts.
More information is available on the Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation homepage: https://dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/cvc/