Crime Victims’ Compensation Frequently asked questions
The program cannot pay compensation directly to the victim if they are living with the offender but can pay others on the victim's behalf.
The crime must have been reported within five days of when a report could reasonably have been made. Examples of circumstances justifying delayed reporting include delayed disclosure by a juvenile victim, and safety concerns. However, the program must be informed of the reason for the delay in reporting.
The victim's cooperation must be reasonable under the circumstances. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, the program may find the victim's refusal/failure to cooperate was reasonable. An example of a situation where a refusal to cooperate may be reasonable is threats by the offender or others. However, as with question #2 above, the program must be informed of the reason(s) for the victim's decision in order to find that his/her cooperation, or lack thereof, was reasonable.
Must the victim have incurred a physical injury, such as a cut, bruise or broken limb, in order to qualify?
The program can pay compensation for either physical injury or emotional trauma. Physical injury is not a prerequisite for assistance; however, the crime must have involved physical contact or the threat of immediate physical harm.
Although the Victims' Compensation Program is administered by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, victims of state, tribal and federal crimes can qualify for assistance if they meet the eligibility requirements.
Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, the victim may qualify for compensation if the program can find the crime occurred and the victim meets all eligibility requirements.
The program bases its findings on quality of the evidence: a lower standard than that required by the prosecutor in proving the charges. Therefore, the victim may qualify for assistance even if the offender is never identified, is never charged or is found not guilty.
If the offender pled guilty to or was convicted of the crime, is the victim eligible for compensation?
Although the outcome of the criminal proceeding will be considered, other factors must also be considered in determining if the victim is eligible. For example, the crime must have been reported timely and the application filed in a timely manner.
The victim's conduct must also be taken into consideration: whether they acted so as to provoke or incite the crime or in a manner that they reasonably should have foreseen could lead to the crime or an injury. Therefore, the outcome of the criminal case does not necessarily determine the outcome of the victim's claim for compensation.
So long as the program can find good cause was shown for the delay in filing, the application may be accepted more than one year after the crime. Examples of good cause include delayed disclosure by a juvenile victim, payments by a collateral source or lack of information about the program.
Does the victim have to wait to see if the offender pays restitution before they can qualify for compensation for the bills?
Compensation is not dependent upon restitution. If the victim is eligible, the program can pay the bills on the victim's behalf. If the offender later pays restitution, the payments are forwarded to the program. However, restitution should be requested from the offender in order to hold the offender accountable for their actions and to provide funds for payment of other claims.
Unlike other programs, there is no income requirement for Victims' Compensation; so long as the victim is eligible for assistance and has suffered a compensable loss, they can receive help.