The Texas Victims’ Compensation Fund
The Texas legislature in passing the Crime Victims’ Compensation Act recognized that many innocent individuals suffer personal injury or death as a result of criminal acts. The main intent of the Crime Victims’ Compensation Act is to encourage greater public cooperation in the successful apprehension and prosecution of criminals by compensating those who suffer personal injury or death in attempts at preventing crime or apprehending criminals.
The Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Act (TCVCA) is broken into three main parts and is found in Article 56 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Subchater A, the first main part of the Act deals with what rights and notices victims are legally entitled and at times required to receive from law enforcement or court officials. Subchapter B, the next part of the Act, outlines the process by which a qualifying victim applies for compensation.
If you are looking for real world instruction on how to file an application for compensation under the TCVCA, it is recommended you consult a lawyer and do not rely on this information as this is not legal advice. This article is used for reference purposes and is not intended to be legal advice. Before we get to the application process, deadlines for filing, limits on compensation and the hearing process and appeal process, let’s discuss the rights of victims of crime in Texas. Always be aware that decisions on whether to compensate an individual under the TCVCA is done so on a case by case basis and your particular facts must be taken into account when analyzing whether you qualify for compensation.
CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS
If you are the victim, a guardian of a victim, or a close relative of a deceased victim you are ENTITLED to the following rights within the Texas Criminal Justice System
- right to receive adequate protection when cooperating with prosecution efforts
- right to have your safety taken into consideration when fixing bail for the accused
- when requested the right of notice of court proceedings and cancellations.
- when requested the right to be informed of appellate decisions prior to publication.
- when requested the right to be informed of procedure in investigations and prosecution.
- the right to provide information for presentencing investigation purposes concerning the impact of the criminal offense on the victim and family.
- the right to receive information regarding compensation through the Victims’ Compensation Act, including eligibility, amount of compensation and application procedures. Right to medical exams if a sexual assault victim and referral to available social service agencies.
- the right to be informed and participate in parole procedures and to provide documentation for defendant’s file when considering parole.
- the right to a separate waiting area secure from other witnesses before testifying in any proceeding concerning the offender.
- right to prompt return of any property of the victim that is held by law enforcement or attorneys for the state when no longer needed for evidence.
- right to have the prosecuting attorney for the state notify victim’s employer of the need to participate in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal charge.
- The right to counseling on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS when the victim of sexual assault crimes.
- the right to victim-offender mediation coordinated by Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- the right to complete a victim impact statement, to have the statement considered and to informed of the uses of the victim impact statement.
- right to forensic medical examination if a victim of sexual assault and the assault is reported to law enforcement within 96 hours.
For further information take a look at this document from the Travis County Attorney’s resources page entitled Texas Crime Victim Bill of Rights
Victim Impact Statement – Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
The Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse, with the participation of the community justice assistance division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Board of Pardons and Paroles coordinate together to develop a form recording the impact of a crime on victims and their family. The form, the Victim Impact Statement, is used by Texas law enforcement, prosecutors and the criminal justice system to record the impact a particular crime has had on a victim or his or her family.