Help for Crime Victims
The New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) is here to help you in a number of ways as you, a family member, or friend cope with victimization from a crime. This page is designed to: describe the services OVS can provide both directly and indirectly, educate you on your rights as a victim, and point you to other service providers who may also be able to assist you.
A core mission of OVS is to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime for their out-of-pocket losses associated with the crime. This compensation, which in New York is broad and comprehensive, particularly in the area of long-term medical benefits, provides some financial relief to victims, who often suffer long-term financial loss in addition to the harm caused by the crime itself. For more information on the compensation OVS can provide and to obtain an application for compensation, please review: A Guide to Crime Victim Compensation in New York State, Frequently Asked Questions, and our Claim Application and Instructions.
Victim Assistance Programs
OVS has a very active grants program that supports nearly 200 Victim Assistance Programs across the State. OVS-funded victim services are accessible to citizens of every county in the State. The Victim Assistance Programs funded by OVS that can meet your needs and/or which are located near you can be identified by searching Locate a Program Near You.
Rights of Crime Victims
New York State has an entire article of law dedicated to serving the interests of crime victims. The Fair Treatment Standards for Crime Victims is contained within Article 23 of the Executive Law. The purpose of that act is to ensure that the State’s criminal justice system has appropriate standards for the treatment of innocent victims of crime. Much of the information contained in Article 23 is explained in OVS’s Rights of Crime Victims in New York State pamphlet which is designed to be an important resource for those who are facing the challenges associated with being a crime victim; it is an excellent source of information on victims’ rights relating to judicial proceedings, victim impact statements, restitution and much more.
The Victim Assistance Program (VAP or the Program) within the State’s Office of Victim Services itself is often the first point of contact for victims seeking information, compensation, advocacy and emotional support related to their new and unwanted status as victims of crime. Advocates can immediately draw upon the resources of OVS for the purpose of delivering direct services, including referrals to all appropriate resources throughout New York, particularly other OVS funded victim assistance programs and the established network of crime victim service providers, compensation claims assistance (including emergency OVS compensation claims assistance), information, personal advocacy and follow-up contact through in person contact, telephone, mail, and e-mail. Victims of crimes that occurred in New York, who now reside outside the state, may also contact the Program.
Lunida Gresham (Advocate/Social Worker in Albany office) – 518 485 9104
Kiesha Maxwell (Victim Advocate in Brooklyn office) – 718 923 4366
Brian Stearns (Victim Advocate in Buffalo office) – 716 847 7996
Other Government Agencies to Help You
The New York State Office for the Aging is charged with helping older New Yorkers to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. Read the New York State Senior Citizen’s Resource Guide for information on programs and services for seniors, including elder abuse prevention and crime prevention. In addition, there is a Senior Citizen's Help Line (1-800-342-9871) which provides toll-free access to anyone seeking information about programs and services for the elderly in New York State. In addition, a Spanish-speaking staff person is available to assist callers.
The Office for the New York State Attorney General has a Crime Victims Helpline Number: 1-800-771-7755. The Crime Victims Advocate advises the Attorney General on matters of interest and concern to crime victims and their families and develops policy and programs to address those needs. View the Attorney General's Crime Victim's Bill of Rights.
The New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and New York State Sheriff’s Association Victim Hotline – Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE): Through VINE crime victims can be notified when an offender is released from State prison or Sheriff’s custody. Visit the DOCS website or your county’s Sheriff’s webpage for additional information on the VINE program. Or for offender information, call toll-free:1-888-VINE-4-NY
You can register directly on the VINE website for notification.
The City of New York Department of Correction also has a free 24-hour hotline service that provides information about the custody status of inmates of the New York City Department of Correction. Please visit their website for more information or call the City’s VINE at 1-888-846-3469.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) works with victim assistance professionals, advocates, and law enforcement on a variety of victim issues.
Rape Crisis Centers (RCCs) : The New York State Department of Health funds a rape crisis center (RCC) in every county across the State. These RCCs offer a variety of programs designed to prevent rape and sexual assault and ensure that quality crisis intervention and counseling services, as well as a full range of indicated medical, forensic and support services, are available to victims of rape and sexual assault. See the DOH website for more information, including a Rape Crisis Provider Report which is organized by county and includes contact information.
Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Programs: As a result of legislation called the Sexual Assault Reform Act which became effective in February 2001, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) developed standards for approving SAFE hospital programs, approving programs that train individual SAFE examiners, and certifying individual SAFE examiners. See the DOH website for further information on the SAFE program. DOH-approved SAFE programs and specifically trained health professionals will ensure that victims of sexual assault are provided with competent, compassionate and prompt care, while providing the most advanced technology associated with DNA and other sexual assault forensic evidence collection and preservation. The SAFE program philosophy is based upon the belief that providing a specialized standard of medical care and evidence collection to victims of sexual assault will support recovery and prevent further injury or illness arising from victimization, and may increase the successful prosecution of sex offenders for victims who choose to report crimes to law enforcement. Although all hospitals with an emergency department are required to provide care to victims of sexual assault, SAFE Centers have additional requirements and provide specialized care. See SAFE versus Non-SAFE Hospital Requirements.
The Division of Parole (Division) tries to ensure that victims of crime do not become forgotten parties in the criminal justice process and helps to ensure that victims are aware of their rights with regard to the parole process. The Division can maintain contact with crime victims and, at their request, keep them informed of parole interview dates and decisions, and the release dates of the offenders who victimized them. At the Division’s website you will learn important facts for victims such as:
- Victims can have additional face to face meetings with a Parole Board member prior to an inmate's subsequent reappearances. A transcript is now generated from these interviews and made available to the reviewing Board panel;
- Victims may submit video or audio taped victim impact statements if preferred;
- A new toll-free telephone number makes access to the Victim Impact Unit easier for citizens (1-800-639-2650).
The New York State Police has a Crime Victim Specialist Program, through which victim advocates provide enhanced services to victims in the State’s rural areas. Click Here for a description of the services provided through this program which is funded by the Office of Victim Services.
The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) was created to improve the response of the State and local communities to domestic violence. The OPDV website has a section on “Help for Victims” and also lists NYS Domestic Violence hotlines by county and offers NYS and NYC resources for domestic violence victims, among other things. Please visit their website for complete information.
The Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) is committed to: improving practices that promote public safety, while supervising offenders in the community, ensuring offender accountability, providing restitution to victims and reducing recidivism. Probation and other community corrections programs do outstanding community-based work in crime prevention, victim protection and restitution, and in providing assistance to the courts and releasing authorities in determining appropriate dispositions and sanctions.
The US Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) provides federal funds to support victim compensation and assistance programs across the Nation to promote justice and healing for all victims. OVC also provides training for diverse professionals who work with victims, develops and disseminates publications, supports projects to enhance victims' rights and services, and educates the public about victim issues.
To learn more about how New Yorkers can take steps to prevent and mitigate identity theft and possibly receive restitution for identity theft-related loses, log on to the New York State Consumer Protection Board’s (CPB) website at NYS Consumer Protection Board. The CPB is the State's top consumer watchdog and "think tank" and the enforcement agency for the Do Not Call law. The CPB’s toll-free Consumer Assistance Hotline (1-800-697-1220) connects consumers with an Agency Consumer Advisor who can provide direct assistance. The CPB’s Consumer Advisors provide direct assistance to more than 4,500 consumers each month saving them more than $1.3 million annually in the form of refunds, rebates, credit, and avoided costs. In addition to the online complaint form, the CPB website is home to important consumer safety information and resources on a variety of issues, including preventing and dealing with identity theft and tips on how to respond when your personal information is compromised.