If you or a family member have been an innocent victim of a violent crime, the Rhode Island Crime Victim Compensation Program may be able to help you with some of the expenses resulting from the crime. While no amount of financial compensation can erase the painful memories of a violent crime, this program can help ease some of the burdens you face as a result.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program is operated by the Office of the General Treasurer. To learn more about the program, to see if you are eligible for compensation, or to fill out an application for compensation, please call (401) 462-7655 or click here.
The Program can assist you with crime-related expenses which are not covered by insurance or other resources up to $25,000. Expenses may include medical bills, funeral and burial costs, loss of earnings, or mental health counseling. The program will only provide compensation in cases involving personal injury or death. Property losses are not covered.
It is important to file your claim as soon as possible after the crime occurs. If you fail to file a claim within the time allowed under current law, you may not be eligible to receive compensation.
The term "restitution" in the criminal justice system means payment by an offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender's wrongful acts. The Rhode Island Courts, not the Office of Attorney General, have the authority to order convicted offenders to pay restitution to victims as part of their sentences.
If Restitution was ordered as part of the defendant’s sentence, you may contact the Superior Court Restitution Unit at (401) 222-2084. Please allow time for the Restitution Office to receive and process the case information.
The difference between restitution and civil damages
Restitution, as noted above, is ordered by a criminal court after the offender has been found guilty. Civil damages are ordered when someone has won a lawsuit in civil court. Victims of crime can obtain both restitution and civil damages. A victim can sue an offender even when the offender has been ordered to pay restitution. Civil damages can include losses not covered by restitution, such as payment for pain and suffering, payment for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and even punitive damages (damages imposed just to punish the defendant).
Please note: the Office of Attorney General cannot provide you with legal advice or legal referrals. If you are seeking answers to legal questions, need someone to help you find a law or case, or need someone to take your case to court, you will need to find a private attorney. For information on choosing and using a lawyer, you may wish to visit the Rhode Island Bar Association’s website.