The aftermath of a crime can be significant, persistent, and enduring for a victim. Not only does a crime victim, including a victim of a sexual assault, experience injury during the commission of the crime itself, a victim experiences injuries, damages, and losses that extend beyond the actual unlawful incident itself. In California, as is the case in other states, crime victims are able to seek and obtain compensation for these various injuries, damages, and losses – including those that arise during the commission of the crime itself as well as those that occur or persists following the incident. A crime victim advocate oftentimes can be truly helpful in assisting a victim in obtaining warranted compensation following the criminal victimization.
A Crime Victim Advocate and the California Victim Compensation Board
As mentioned a moment ago, the state of California has an agency that provides compensation to victims of certain types of crimes. Oftentimes, a victim advocate assists the target of a crime in applying for and obtaining compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board. (As was also noted, other states have similar agencies to provide assistance to victims in the aftermath of a crime.)
The types of crimes for which compensation from the Board is available (and which an advocate can assist in obtaining) include:
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Sexual assault
- Elder abuse
- Hate crimes
- Drunk driving
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Human trafficking
- Online harassment
The specific types of expenses for which the Board provides compensation include:
- Medical and medical-related expenses for the victim, including dental expenses.
- Outpatient mental health treatment or counseling.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Wage or income loss up to five years following the date of the crime. If the victim is permanently disabled, wage or income loss may be extended.
- Support loss for legal dependents of a deceased or injured victim.
- Up to 30 days wage loss for the parent or legal guardian of a minor victim who is hospitalized or dies as a direct result of a crime.
- Job retraining.
- Medically necessary renovation or retrofitting of a home or vehicle for a person permanently disabled as a result of the crime.
- Home security installation or improvements up to $1,000.
- In-patient psychiatric hospitalization costs under dire or exceptional circumstances.
- Relocation expenses up to $2,000 per household.
- Crime scene cleanup up to $1,000 when a crime occurs in a residence or vehicle.
- Veterinary fees, or replacement costs for a guide, signal. or service dog.
- Roundtrip mileage reimbursement from your residence to medical, dental or mental health appointments.
Violent Crimes and Crime Scene Cleanup
The horrific reality is that violent crimes, including sexual assaults, oftentimes occur in the victim’s residence. This occurs because the victim either knows the perpetrator in some way or because the perp has committed a forced entry into the residence. If the incident is violent, there typically will be a need for crime scene cleanup.
A victim of a violent crime is cautioned against undertaking the cleanup of the incident scene on his or her own. A person who is the victim of a violent crime has enough to deal with in the way of emotional issues that he or she doesn’t need to enhance those problems by undertaking crime scene clean up personally. Thus, the recommended course of action is for the victim of a violent crime to obtain professional assistance from an experienced, reputable, compassionate crime scene cleanup company.
Obtaining this type of professional assistance is another area in which a crime victim advocate can provide vital assistance. The victim advocate oftentimes can assist in locating a reputable provider of crime scene cleaning services. Additionally, a victim advocate is also likely to be available to assist in scheduling the actual crime scene cleanup as well as doing a post-cleanup inspection to ensure that the premises are returned to their prior condition. The objective of a crime scene cleanup is to remediate the situation to ensure that no evidence of the incident remains.
Accessing Assistance From a Crime Victim Advocate
The vast majority of judicial jurisdictions across the United States have advocates available to assist victims of crimes, including sexual assaults of all types. This certainly is the case in the state of California. This includes judicial jurisdictions on the local, state, and federal level.
Crime victim advocates are found in different agencies, depending on the structure of a particular jurisdiction. For example, crime victim advocates can be found in agencies that include:
- District attorneys’ offices
- Court services
- Police departments
- Specific victim advocates’ offices
Oftentimes, police officers involved in responding to or investigating a crime are able to provide specific information about obtaining the assistance of a victim advocate. In the aftermath of certain types of crimes, including sexual assaults, a victim will be connected with an advocate directly after the incident.