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Iowa Code Section 915.20 requires that upon request by a victim, a victim counselor is granted access to any of the offense proceedings. To obtain a victim counselor or advocate, call the Iowa Attorney General's Victim Compensation Division listed in the next paragraph, or contact your county attorney's office.
Crime Victim Compensation:
The Iowa Crime Victim Assistance Program provides access to local resources to counsel and support crime victims. The program is funded with criminal fines and penalties.
Financial assistance is provided for some crime-related expenses (but not to pay for stolen property), such as medical expenses; counseling expenses including mental health counseling; replacement of medically necessary items such as medications, wheelchairs, or eyeglasses; lost wages due to emotional or physical injury. Compensation pays only certain crime-related expenses, unlike restitution which pays for all of the victim's financial losses related to the crime, including property losses.
Victims of violent crimes apply for compensation on a form provided by the police, prosecutor, service provider, or can call the program directly and apply over the phone. An application should be filed as soon as possible after the crime is reported even if the victim plans to request restitution. An application must be filed within 2 years of the crime or discovery of the crime.
Contact the Crime Victim Compensation Program at 515-281-5044 or 800-373-5044 for assistance,
or write to:
Iowa Attorney General's Crime Victim Assistance Division
Lucas Building, Ground Floor
321 East 12th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
or visit the Attorney General's website.
Right to Notification:
Other than for simple misdemeanors, victims of crime have the right to register in writing with the local county attorney for notification about the status of their case and their rights as a crime victim. Law enforcement is required to notify victims of their right to register with the county attorney and must provide a "request for registration" form to the victim. Victims can then submit the form to the county attorney who is then required to forward the registration form to other Iowa agencies such as law enforcement, clerks of court, Criminal Appeals Division, Department of Corrections, and Board of Parole who will then provide written notification to the registered victim of case status.
Only the victim may register, but any interested person can obtain information and register for automated notification by phone from the IowaVINE. Contact IowaVINE at 888-742-8463 or the website. This notification will include custody status changes such as release, escape, transfer).
Restitution is court-ordered payment of crime related expenses by an offender to a crime victim. Judges order restitution as part of the defendant's sentence. Restitution consideration is mandatory in all criminal sentencing in Iowa and is part of the sentencing order. If the full amount of restitution is unknown at sentencing, the amount of restitution can be determined later. Restitution is only an option if the offender is convicted and ordered to pay restitution, and the defendant pays restitution directly to the County Clerk of Court. Restitution is different from compensation as listed above.
Offenders can be ordered to provide restitution for crime related expenses at sentencing. Restitution includes all crime related expenses that have not been covered by insurance or by the Crime Victim Compensation Program, and can include: medical bills, counseling expenses, lost wages, damaged property, and other expenses. Victims can submit their out-of-pocket expenses to the County Attorney's office for restitution, and the County Attorney will request that the judge order restitution. Judges are required to order restitution of $150,000 to the estate of a victim who dies as a result of the crime (in addition to restitution for out-of-pocket expenses). The victim can complete a Victim Impact Statement to document crime-related financial losses by the victim (copies of bills, receipts and proof of losses are attached to the Victim Impact Statement).
The victim should ensure that the Clerk of Court and the offender's Probation Officer are informed of the victim's current address so that restitution can be submitted to the victim.
The defendant has the right to object to the restitution. The court may hold a hearing on restitution, and the victim may have to testify at the hearing and the proof of losses submitted.
Restitution does not guarantee payment to the victim however. If restitution has not been made, contact the Judicial District Department of Correctional Services in which the crime was committed. If payment is still not made, the victim can ask the County Attorney or Probation/Parole Officer to schedule a contempt of court hearing, At the hearing, the judge may hold the offender in contempt of court; extend the period of probation to allow repayment; or revoke probation and serve time in jail or prison. If the offender is in prison, 20% of all assets in the prison account are seized automatically for restitution.
A restitution order by the court is automatically considered as a Confession of Judgment (a civil court order) which is a lien against the offender's resources and property. This lien shows up on credit reports often preventing loans until restitution is paid. A civil judgment allows a victim to go to court to seize offender wages, property, bank accounts, and other assets, but will cost the victim court and filing fees and possibly attorney fees.
If the offender is a juvenile, the parents of the offender may be responsible for up to $2000 of the child's debt, and a separate civil suit may be filed against the parents (usually in Small Claims Court).
Victim Impact Statement:
A victim has the right to submit a victim impact statement to the court at sentencing, (either in person, orally, or in writing). This statement allows an opportunity to state the crime's effects on the victim and his/her family. A victim counselor or advocate can assist in the preparation and presentment of the statement.
A victim of a crime may sue the offender and third parties responsible for any damages. A civil suit can recover all losses including psychological trauma, pain and suffering, or loss of consortium. If recovery had been obtained from the Crime Victim Compensation program, the program is paid back from the proceeds of the suit. The program will pay a share of the attorney's fee if money is recovered in a civil suit to be repaid to the Crime Victim Compensation Program.