Crime Victims' Compensation:
Administrative Appeals Process
If the Crime Victims' Compensation Program makes a decision with which the victim or claimant disagrees, the victim or the claimant has a right under the law to ask that the decision be reconsidered.
You can appeal a decision to deny your application for benefits, or to deny a particular benefit or requested amount of a benefit.
You should follow the instructions on this page and be sure to send in materials within the time limits set for each stage. If you fail to submit information within the time limits, your appeal may be denied on that basis alone. Please take the time to read this page thoroughly. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights, please call us.
There are three steps in the appeal process; they are all governed by statute or administrative rule. The first step, called "reconsideration," is intended to be an informal way of resolving your claim.
If you are still dissatisfied with the decision after reconsideration, you may request a "final ruling hearing." This is a more formal procedure -- one that you may want to talk to an attorney about.
Finally, you have the right to appeal our final ruling to district court. Our appeal process is intended to be fair and just and to ensure that our administrative decisions are based not only on the letter of the law but on the intent of the Crime Victims' Compensation Act.
For documentation purposes, most of our correspondence will be sent by certified mail.
When you receive a letter from us that either denies or reduces your application or benefits, and you disagree with the decision, your first step is to write a letter to request that your denial be reconsidered. Be sure to explain why you disagree with the decision. You must write us within 30 days of the date of the letter denying your claim or benefit.
We will then write to tell you that you may send us any additional information to support your request for reconsideration within 30 days. A hearing officer will review your claim, as well as any additional written or oral evidence you have sent. If you have information that you want to talk to us about, you may call the appeal reviewer.
The appeal reviewer will take about 30 days to "reconsider" your claim. The appeal reviewer will review all the reports in the file, talk to the victim and/or witnesses, and order any additional investigation. After the appeal reviewer has completed reconsideration, you will receive written notification telling you whether or not your claim has been approved. The appeal reviewer will tell you the reasons for the decision.
This reconsideration decision becomes the final ruling of the Office of the Attorney General within 30 days of the date of the reconsideration decision.
Final Ruling Hearings
If you are still dissatisfied with the decision on your claim, the next step in the appeal process is to request a final ruling hearing. To do this, you must send us a letter within 30 days of the reconsideration decision, requesting a "final ruling hearing."
We will notify you, in writing, at least 10 days before the hearing. The hearing will be conducted by telephone. If you do not appear at the hearing, the decision will be made by the hearing officer based on the available information and the hearing will not be rescheduled. If you have an emergency or cannot make it to the scheduled hearing for a valid reason, just call us in advance to request that we reschedule the hearing.
It is your responsibility to make arrangements to have other witnesses and individuals present for your hearing. However, with advance notice, the hearing officer can include additional parties in a conference call so that you need not be in the same place as other parties. It is within the discretion of the hearing officer to determine whether a conference call with other individuals is necessary to the hearing.
Prior to the hearing, you will need to gather and provide proof in support of your application. For instance, if you are claiming that you were unable to work because of the crime, you must present evidence such as a doctor's statement of disability and a statement from your employer. We will arrive at a monetary figure to compensate you for your losses if you prevail in the hearing. The hearing officer will have access to all documents in your CVC file. You only need to provide the hearing officer with any additional documentary evidence you plan to discuss at your hearing.
The procedures for the hearing are:
- The hearing officer will begin the hearing by explaining the law and rules that apply to the hearing.
- The hearing officer will explain the issues involved in your claim.
- You or your representative will be asked to state your position; that is, why you feel your claim should be awarded. You may present any witnesses or information you have to support your position.
- The hearing officer may ask witnesses to swear to their testimony, be cross-examined or testify outside the presence of other witnesses.
In arriving at a decision, the hearing officer may consider relevant information even though that information might not be admissible in a court of law. The hearing officer will notify you in writing of the decision and the reasons for the decision. You will also be advised of your right to appeal the final ruling.
Appeal to District Court
If you disagree with the final ruling, you have the right to appeal the decision to district court. To appeal, you must file a "written notice of dissatisfaction" with the Office of the Attorney General within 40 days of the final ruling. You or your attorney must then file a lawsuit in district court within 40 days of the date the written notice of dissatisfaction was received by the Office of the Attorney General.
In computing the time periods, if the last day is a legal holiday or Sunday, the last day is not counted and the time is extended to include the next business day. You must follow the time limits above in order for your appeal to be considered.
The assistance of an attorney is highly recommended in order to help you properly appeal the final ruling. In district court, the issues on appeal will be decided de novo; that is, the court will hear the case as if no decision by the Crime Victims' Compensation Division existed. The burden of proof is on the victim or claimant. Finally, the lawsuit must be filed in district court in the county where the crime occurred, or in your county of residence at the time of the crime.
You may have an attorney represent you at any time throughout the appeal process. Limited attorney fees are available if the appeal is successful.
Our address is:
Appeals & Litigation Section
Crime Victim Services Division
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 12198
Austin, Texas 78711-2198