Maryland Crime Victims: What to Do Following a Crime

114161816Maryland crime victims often feel emotionally vulnerable following a crime and may not know how to proceed.  Feelings of anger, shame and fear are common.  Crime victims do not have to cope with these emotions alone.  Resources and assistance are available for crime victims and their families.

The following are step by step instructions to help document the incident, as well as help establish the legal right to recover compensation or restitution for those victimized by a crime.

Seek Medical Attention: The first thing to do immediately following a crime is to seek medical attention if necessary.  Success in overcoming injuries is often dependent upon how promptly medical care is sought.  Some injuries may not show symptoms for several days, but can still turn out to be severe.  It is important to seek prompt medical attention for all injuries, initially and most critically to help with one’s recovery, but also to fully document the nature and extent of one’s injuries.

File a Police Report:  The police will take a statement from the crime victim or their family.  In the aftermath of a crime, it can be difficult to remember and relay to the officer all the relevant details of what happened.  Include as many details as possible, and stay in contact with the officer if the victim or anyone in the family remembers additional information.  

Apply for Victim Services:  The Maryland Attorney General’s Office provides several resources and benefits to crime victims. For example, Maryland crime victims are required to be informed of events relating to their case. A Victim Witness Coordinator within the State’s Attorneys’ offices of every jurisdiction in Maryland will usually notify victims about court events such as appellate arguments, dispositions, or convictions.  They will assist victims and witnesses with travel arrangements, interviews for the trial, or other special needs.

VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday):  VINE is an automated notification system that helps you exercise your rights as a crime victim.  When you register for the VINE service, you will receive a phone call or email to notify you of court dates related to your case.  VINE will also contact you about the release, escape or transfer of your offender.  VINE can also notify you on the compliance status of a sex offender.  Recently, Maryland has added Probation and Parole to the list of notifications VINE can make.  Now you can be alerted when your offender is being reviewed for Parole, has an upcoming parole hearing, change in supervision, if re-arrested, is due to be released, or more.   VINE can provide you with 24 hour access to information about your case or offender status.  You can call VINE any time—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—to check on the status of your case or offender.   VINE is a computer system that regularly receives court and custody information from Maryland criminal justice agencies.  If there are any changes to your case or offender status, VINE will automatically call your phone number. The VINE service is provided to you for free by the Maryland State Board of Victim Services and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.   You can register for VINE two ways:   Call the wonderful and highly dedicated staff at the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. at 1-877-VICTIM-1 and ask for help with VINE.   Or   Call 1-866-MD4VINE and follow the prompts.

Keep All Records:  It is important for crime victims to keep a complete record of all documents throughout criminal and civil proceedings.  Photos of the crime scene, the victim and any physical injuries are especially important to an effective presentation of the case.  These documents are always helpful in assisting victims recover damages.

CICB (Criminal Injuries Compensation Board):  The Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) is an entity designed to provide aid and assistance to victims of crime in Maryland.  Its statutory authority shall be construed in all circumstances to remedy the harm to the victim and in favor of eligibility for the victim or claimant.  To begin a claim, print a claim application here. Spanish application/Aplicación en Español.

Claims Examination

  • Efficient processing of claims
  • Debt intervention and negotiation
  • Emergency and supplemental awards
  • Interpretation services

Victim Advocacy

  • Compassionate listening
  • Application assistance
  • Status updates
  • Resource referrals
  • Collaboration between involved parties
  • Hearing notification and accompaniment
  • Community education and outreach

Frequently Asked Questions for Victims: Who is eligible for compensation?

  • Person who suffers physical injury as a result of a crime or delinquent act;
  • Surviving spouse or child of a homicide victim;
  • Person who assumed responsibility for the funeral expenses of a homicide victim;
  • Person who was dependant on the homicide victim for principal support;
  • Person who was dependant on the perpetrator of the violence for principal support;
  • Person who suffers from psychological injury as the result of certain offenses; and
  • Person who suffers injury while trying to prevent a crime, apprehend a suspect or assist a law enforcement officers in the course of the officer’s official duties.

What is reimbursable?

  • Medical expenses related to physical injury;
  • Expenses for psychological injury incurred as the result of certain offenses;
  • Loss of earnings which are directly related to the victim’s inability to work following the crime or victim’s principal financial support being unable to work;
  • Total or partial, permanent or temporary, disability;
  • Funeral expense in the case of a homicide;
  • Loss of support or dependency when a homicide victim was providing support to the claimant; and
  • Other expenses as approved by the Board.
  • Pain and suffering are NOT recoverable through Criminal Injuries Compensation but rather exclusively obtained through the civil process.
  • Only actual out-of-pocket expense is reimbursable, so for example medical expenses covered by health insurance is not includable in a Criminal Injuries Compensation award, but co-pays and deductibles actually paid are included.

What must a victim do to qualify for compensation?

  • Unless good cause is shown, report the crime to appropriate authorities within 48 hours of the crime occurring; and
  • Have incurred at least $100 in reimbursable expenses.

Seek Restitution:  Judges are permitted as a part of sentencing the offender, to award the victim financial restitution required to be paid by the offender personally as a condition of their sentence.  Any victim is eligible for restitution if they have suffered any financial loss as a result of a crime.  One does not have to have a physical injury to be eligible for restitution.  Restitution is a money judgment against the offender and can be collected by voluntary payments by the offender, or if not provided willingly can be collected by an Earnings Withholding Order, Wage Garnishment or by attaching real estate, vehicles, bank accounts and the like by the Sheriff to be sold for the benefit of the victim.  A restitution judgment is valid for 12 years at which time it can be renewed for an additional 12 years.

Contact a Competent Civil Attorney and Consider Filing a Civil Case:  Crime-related expenses can add up quickly.  Both restitution and criminal injuries compensation do not fully cover a crime victim’s economic loss.  Only through civil litigation can damages such as pain and suffering (typically the largest single element of a claim) be compensated.  Please consider contacting AFSL to see if filing a civil claim is appropriate for your case.  Filing a civil lawsuit can often help victims where offender and state compensation cannot.

For more information on how to proceed following a crime, please contact Keith Franz at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz, LLC, or call 410-821-6800 or 800-588-6801.