The Virginia Victims Fund requests information from police departments to determine that a crime was committed which is compensable under VVF and that the victim meets certain eligibility requirements. These requirements include:
- Contributory Conduct- the victim was not engaged in illegal activity which led to their injury, such as committing a robbery or purchasing illegal drugs
- Cooperation- the victim cooperates with law enforcement investigations and the Commonwealth Attorney, if applicable
- The Location of the Incident- The Virginia Victims Fund can assist victims who are injured in Virginia, or Virginia residents that are injured in a country where a program similar to VVF will not serve them
- Timely Reporting- the victim should notify police within 5 days of the incident, unless there is demonstrated good cause for the delay
- Timely Filing- victims should file with the Virginia Victims Fund within one year of the incident, unless there is demonstrated good cause for the delay.
The Virginia Victims Fund requests law enforcement information pursuant to § 19.2-368.3 and §19.2-368.6 of the Code of Virginia. This request for information includes the narrative report and all supplements. In addition to the departmental report, the Virginia Victims Fund also requests that the investigating officer fill out a form (the Police/Sheriff Report Form) which asks specific questions about the victim’s innocence and cooperation. While VVF is required to establish these eligibility criteria, the departmental report does not always include this information, which has prompted VVF to ask these questions specifically in the Police/Sheriff Report Form.
Subsection 2 of § 19.2-368.3(2) allows VVF to receive investigative results and information from Commonwealth’s Attorneys, State Police, police departments, sheriffs’ departments, the Chief Medical Examiner, and the juvenile and domestic relations district courts. However, the statute expressly provides that VVF shall only use the information to carry out its duties under the statute, and the information shall be confidential and shall not be disseminated further. Claimants and their representatives are not entitled to receive, examine, or copy these records or the information contained in them.
Virginia Victims Fund and law enforcement share a mission to help victims of crime recover and heal. It is important for law enforcement to make victims aware of the resources available to them and how to apply for assistance.
The Code of Virginia Section § 19.2-368.17 states that “whenever a crime which directly resulted in personal physical injury to, or death of, an individual is reported within the time required by § 19.2-368.10, the law-enforcement agency to which the report is made shall make reasonable efforts, where practicable, to notify the victim or other potential claimant in writing on forms prepared by the Commission of his or her possible right to file a claim under this chapter. In any event, no liability or cause of action shall arise from the failure to so notify a victim of crime or other potential claimant”. VVF prepares forms as indicated by this code section which are available for law enforcement agencies free of charge.
Forensic authorization in VA
When a victim complains of sexual assault, they have a right to forensic evidence collection, which will be paid for by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Victims are not required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to receive this benefit, as defined in § 19.2-165.1 (B). This blind reporting is available to victims who submit to a forensic medical exam with 120 hours of the incident. Victims of chronic abuse that report outside of this timeframe can still have a forensic exam paid for by the Commonwealth if it is part of an active investigation. Payment for sexual assault forensic exams for victims in Virginia is paid by the SAFE Payment Program, which is housed in the Virginia Victims Fund. Click here for more information about the SAFE Payment Program.
Forensic exams for other types of crimes, such as elder abuse, intimate partner violence, child physical abuse, etc., are paid by the Supreme Court of Virginia when authorized by a Commonwealth Attorney or their designee. Please contact the local Victim Witness Assistance Program for more information.