Hearing Guidelines
The Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) was established to assist citizens who have been victims of crime in New Jersey.

The VCCO has a role to play in the healing process by providing a source for relief from the financial burden of victimization. Crime victims who have suffered such losses as medical and counseling expenses, loss of earnings and funeral expenses may receive compensation as reimbursement for these losses.

New Jersey state law requires that the VCCO conduct an independent evaluation of all circumstances of the crime prior to determining if the claimant is eligible. We are also required to verify the losses incurred in deciding the amount of compensation. If there is disagreement with a determination made by the VCCO, a hearing may be requested.

The material in this pamphlet provides responses to frequently asked questions about hearings and how they are conducted.

The VCCO's legal staff is prepared to answer any questions that arise. Please call:

Newark: (973)648-2107
Trenton: (609)292-1354

NOTE: Processing of the VCCO application will be assisted if you keep records and save receipts or anything else which would support a claim for compensation.
Formal Hearing: A formal hearing is the first step in the legal appeal process afforded to you when a claim for compensation is denied or an issue arises regarding the amount of compensation. It is an opportunity for you to provide testimony and evidence before members of the VCCO to substantiate that you are eligible for compensation. You or your representative and witness(es) will be present to testify under oath. In addition, you or your attorney will have the right to cross examine all other witnesses. All testimony will be taken under oath before a certified court reporter.

How do I arrange for a formal hearing?
You have 20 days from the date of the claims processor's recommendation to request a hearing regarding your claim.
How will notice be given?
You will be notified in writing of the date, time and place of the hearing. If there is any change regarding the formal hearing, you will be contacted by telephone. If the date is not convenient, every effort will be made to accommodate your schedule.
May I bring an attorney to the hearing?
Yes, an attorney, licensed to practice law in New Jersey, may represent you at all stages of the proceedings. The Board provides a list of attorneys who have appeared before the Board previously if you cannot arrange for representation. Should compensation be awarded, the Board will pay the attorney's fee. An attorney may not ask for or receive any sum from the claimant other than the fee awarded and paid by the Board.
How should I prepare for the formal hearing?
VCCO staff will review the hearing process with you. On the day of the hearing, you will have an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the meeting room and anything else you want to know in advance of the hearing.
Are formal hearings open to the public?
Hearings, in general, are open to the public. Formal hearings may be held in private if the interest of the victim and/or witness(es) will be served.
What rules or laws govern the VCCO's decisions?
Although similar in ways to the rules which govern courtroom procedures, VCCO procedures are more flexible. Established rules exist which will be explained to you. In addition, the VCCO has the right to consider all circumstances surrounding the incident which it deems relevant, including factors concerning the victim's cooperation with law enforcement and behavior which may have contributed to his/her injury or death. The VCCO limits its awards to losses incurred as a result of personal injury or death. Property damage is specifically excluded and there is no payment for pain and suffering.
Must I be present at the hearing?
You have the right to be present at the hearing, to give or hear testimony and to question witnesses. However, you may request to be excused. If you have a good reason not to be present, the VCCO may excuse your absence and schedule a new formal hearing.
What if I am unable to appear at the formal hearing?
You should give the VCCO advance notice if you are unable to attend a scheduled hearing, otherwise your claim may be deemed ineligible for compensation.
May anyone, other than my attorney and witnesses, appear on my behalf?
Any person with a substantial interest in the proceedings may appear, provided their presence is approved in advance, by the VCCO.
If the VCCO finds me eligible for compensation, what information must I submit before I can receive payment?
You must maintain and submit to the Board all records of injuries and losses which are related to the claim. Cooperation with the VCCO in verifying the amount of compensation is also required.
Can there be additional proceedings after the formal hearings before an order for compensation is issued?
At your request, or that of your attorney, the VCCO may reopen the claim for further review. The VCCO may also reopen a claim on its own initiative.
Informal Hearing:
Unlike a formal hearing, an informal hearing may be conducted by one Board member seeking information and, perhaps, to avoid a formal hearing. No stenographer is present.
Appeal of the Board's decision.
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the VCCO, you may file a written appeal, in accordance with the Rules of Court, with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, (609)292-4822, within 45 days of the date of your receipt of the Board's decision.