The Crime Victims Fund (the Fund) was established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984. The Fund is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. As of 2018, the Fund balance is over $12 billion and includes deposits from federal criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties, and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys' Offices, federal courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties, as provided by an amendment to VOCA through the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001 that went into effect in 2002. Since 2002, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been deposited into the Fund through this provision.
When the Fund was authorized in 1984, a cap was placed on how much could be deposited into it for the first 8 years. During this time, the annual cap varied from $100 million to $150 million. The lifting of the cap in 1993 allowed for the deposit of all criminal fines, special assessments, and forfeited bail bonds to support crime victim program activities.
For the first 15 years of the Fund's existence, the total deposits for each fiscal year were distributed the following year to support services to crime victims.
Starting in Fiscal Year (FY) 2000, in response to large fluctuations in deposits, Congress placed a cap on funds available for distribution. These annual caps were intended to maintain the Fund as a stable source of support for future victim services. From FY 2000 to 2018, the amount of the annual cap varied from $500 million to more than $4 billion. In FY 2018, the cap was set at $4.436 billion.
In FY 2018, more than $3.4 billion from the Fund was awarded to thousands of local victim assistance programs across the country and to help compensate victims in every state for crime-related losses. These awards surpass every other single-year grant amount in the programs' 34-year history.
Visit the Grants & Funding section of our site for more information about how money from the Fund is allocated to benefit victims.
MAN: The Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA, was passed by Congress in 1984.
WOMAN: VOCA was a watershed moment for victims because for the first time we recognized that victims really had a place in the process and that protecting their rights mattered.
MAN: Not only did it establish a statutory basis for victim rights but it provided funding for services.
WOMAN: The Victims of Crime Act Fund is made up of fines, special assessments, and forfeited bail paid by people who are convicted of federal crimes in U.S. courts around the country.
WOMAN: When there are really big criminal cases, generally against corporations, there are criminal fines, and they’re usually in the millions of dollars.
MAN: To use federal criminal fines, not tax money — that was a major step forward to support the efforts states were making to provide financial assistance to crime victims.
WOMAN: The Crime Victims Fund is distributed by the Office for Victims of Crime.
MAN: The Office makes money available to the states so that they can develop programs in every community that can engage with and assist victims of crime.
WOMAN: The Office for Victims of Crime listens to the needs of state administrators for victims’ compensation and assistance, and then gives us the tools we need to provide assistance to victims of crime.
MAN: The Compensation Program is there to assist victims with things that they would otherwise pay out of their own pocket.
WOMAN: We’re able to assist victims with medical expenses, lost wages, dental, funeral expenses, counseling. With the Victim Assistance Programs, there’s an opportunity, if not a motivation, for creativity, especially at the local level.
WOMAN: Without the money that comes in from the Crime Victims Fund, many victim assistance programs probably would not be able to exist.
WOMAN: This money from the Office for Victims of Crime has made a huge difference in our state.
How VOCA Works
Click on the image for an enlarged view. VOCA chart (PDF 1.4 mb) as published in the 2009 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Resource Guide.