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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Appeal of the Board's
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.