Restitution & Compensation
If you have been the victim of a crime, you are entitled to be compensated in criminal court for certain losses which you have suffered. The person who committed the crime may be ordered to pay you back for your direct losses as a result of the crime. This is called restitution.
Restitution can only be ordered if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty following a trial. Restitution information must be available at the time of sentencing for the Judge to order it; therefore it is important that you submit your restitution request as soon as possible. Otherwise, restitution may not be ordered to you.
Restitution Request Form
Restitution request forms are sent to all victims with the initial trial notification of the first scheduled trial date. It is the victim's responsibility to complete and return this form to the District Attorney's Office before the trial date. If you do not receive the form or are requesting another form, please call the Victim Assistance Unit at 215-348-6292 or 215-348-6305. You may download a copy of the Restitution Form (PDF).
When You Can Request Restitution
You may request restitution for damaged or stolen property and medical or counseling expenses. It can include your out-of-pocket expenses, bills you have paid or owe, and insurance deductibles. Restitution in a criminal case cannot include payments for pain and suffering or for loss of equity or interest. Any questions regarding any civil remedies that you may have must be directed to a civil attorney. The Victim/Witness Assistance Unit can provide you with a booklet that explains civil justice for victims of crime. To request a copy of the booklet, call 215-348-6292 or 215-348-6305.
At sentencing, the Judge will order that a specific amount of restitution be paid based upon the information that you provide to the District Attorney's Office. Restitution is paid to the Clerk of Courts' office by the defendant and the Clerk of Courts distributes the money to the victim(s). When the defendant begins to make a payment, a certain amount of money is taken out for court costs, and the remaining money is applied to pay restitution amounts until they are completely paid off. Victims are always paid before insurance companies.
Responsibilities for Defendant to Pay Restitution
The Adult Probation and Parole Department are responsible for ensuring that the defendant pays restitution. If the defendant is on probation or parole, a payment plan is established by the supervising Probation/Parole Officer. If the defendant does not make regular restitution payments, there are progressive steps that can be taken to enforce the order. More information can be obtained by contacting the Adult Probation and Parole Department at 215-348-6634.
If the defendant is sent to the Bucks County prison, you may not receive any payments until after he/she is released. If the defendant is in state prison, a portion of the money in his/her inmate account can be taken out each month to pay restitution.
For more information about offenders in state prison, you may contact the Office of the Victim Advocate at 800-322-4472 or visit the Office of Victim Advocate website. If your name or address changes, it is very important that you notify the Clerk of Courts' office at 215-348-6389. Some changes may require documentation. If you have questions about whether restitution was ordered or the amount that was ordered, please call the Victim/Witness Assistance unit at 215-348-6292 or 6305.
Victims Compensation Assistance Program
If you have medical bills resulting from a crime, have had cash stolen from you or you are responsible for paying funeral expenses for a loved one as a result of a homicide, you may be eligible for reimbursement by the state through the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP).
You may be eligible for compensation if you meet the following criteria:
- The amount of the loss is at least $100 (no minimum amount is required for victims over 60 years of age)
- The crime occurred in Pennsylvania
- The crime occurred within the last two years
- The crime was reported to police within 72 hours or a Protection From Abuse order was filed within 72 hours, unless good cause is shown or the victim is a minor
Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement
The following expenses may be eligible for reimbursement:
- Childcare expenses
- Crime-scene clean-up
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of earnings due to physical disability resulting from the crime or to attend court proceedings
- Loss of support for financial dependents of a deceased victim
- Out-of-pocket medical or counseling expenses
- Relocation expenses
- Replacement of medically necessary devices
- Stolen benefit cash (social security, pension/retirement, disability)
Crime Victims' Compensation
If you think you may qualify, you are encouraged to apply for Crime Victims' Compensation through the VCAP program. Claim forms and assistance are available through the Victim Assistance Unit of the District Attorney's Office 215-348-6292, Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) 215-343-6543, or VCAP at 800-233-2339. You can also file a claim online by visiting the VCAP website.