Foreign Jurisdiction and Victims Compensation

I am finally sitting down tonight to work on a filing to the New Jersey Victims Compensation Fund for an exemption regarding expenses incurred during my case. I had written about this topic previously and still encourage victims to inquire about the programs in their state as it could be a source of funds you might not have considered. Since my case didn’t go to trial, I did not seem to fit any of the criteria in the forms that would allow me to receive compensation. I didn’t miss work for a lengthy trial, I did not have lasting physical injuries that prevented me from earning an income and I did not have costs incurred traveling to and from trial. But what I did have, and what bothers me to this day, is $2000 in expenses for staying an extra night in Rome right after I filed my police report and for all the costs of attending an interview with the Public Prosecutor of Rome 6 months later:  A rountrip ticket to Rome in June 2010, a hotel room, roundtrip airport transportation, roundtrip transportation to and from the courthouse, and food. Plus, I spent north of $300 filing and mailing my various documents regarding Power of Attorney. The NJ Victims Compensation Fund paperwork does not address costs for any of that. And as their paperwork is already written only for victims of stateside crimes, I didn’t entertain the idea I’d get very far in my filing. That’s until I met a wonderful woman working in the Department of Justice who is one of the most respected women in the anti-sexual violence community.

At her encouragement and assistance, I will be requesting that the NJ Victims Compensation Fund grant me an exemption even though I am filing past three years from the date of the crime and for expenses not outlined in their criteria. My friend had done her research on the New Jersey statutes and tells me the state’s definition of ‘foreign jursidiction’ is not clear, yet it is referenced in the following additional compensation language:

(g) (2&3) Eligible victims shall include: Residents of the State injured in a foreign jurisdiction where said jurisdiction is without a victim compensation program Residents of the State who have received a final determination from a foreign jurisdiction as to a claim filed with a victim’s compensation program which determination has not fully compensated the victim or claimant for all out-of-pocket and unreimbursed and unreimbursable expenses.

Italy does have a victims compensation fund but ONLY for victims of mob violence or terrorism. The confusion about where I fit in and the exasperation I felt trying to juggle all of my paperwork during the case and understanding the nuances of such requirements rendered me paralyzed to take on anything more than what was germaine to my immediate situation. Hence, I never attempted to break the barrier of NJ Victims Compensation for victims who didn’t go to trial but who traveled overseas for awful interrogations by that country’s judicial branch.

I am drafting my letter this week and will share it with you all when it’s done so you can see how I am attempting to explain why I feel I am eligible for reimbursement for some or all of my expenses. As my friend tells me of my decision to file, “I really think it would be beneficial to others. In my experience, these questions and challenges from victims really inform policy development at the state and federal level.” Well, you don’t have to tell me twice. We know I love a good challenge.

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