Powers and Duties of the Office
1. To establish and maintain a principal office and such other offices within the state as it may deem necessary.
OVS currently maintains its principal office in Albany at 1 Columbia Circle, Suite 200, Albany, NY 12203. In
addition, there are offices in New York City at 55 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217, and in Buffalo at 65 Court
Street, Room 308, Buffalo, NY 14202.
2. To appoint a secretary, counsel, clerks and such other employees and agents as it may deem necessary, fix
their compensation within the limitations provided by law, and prescribe their duties.
The Office of Victim Services’ staffing target was increased to 78 employees. Duties performed by staff are
related to the agency’s compensation program, its victim/witness assistance program, and its statutorily
mandated advocacy role.
3. To adopt, promulgate, amend and rescind suitable rules and regulations to carry out the provisions and
purposes of article twenty-two, including rules for the determination of claims, rules for the approval of
attorneys' fees for representation before the office and/or before the appellate division upon judicial review
as provided for in section six hundred twenty-nine of article twenty-two, and rules for the authorization of
qualified persons to assist claimants in the preparation of claims for presentation to the office.
During fiscal year 2011-12, the agency adopted regulations related to the submission of claim applications
and changes of contact information to the Office of Victim Services, specifying where and how claim
applications and changes to contact information may be delivered to the Office.
4. To request from the Division of State Police, from county or municipal police departments and agencies and
from any other state or municipal department or agency, or public authority, and the same are hereby
authorized to provide, such assistance and data as will enable the Office to carry out its functions and duties.
In order to verify the stated crime and loss information submitted by crime victims to OVS, the Office
requested needed information from the police, District Attorneys (DAs), Child Protective Services, Family
Courts and other criminal justice agencies and authorities.
5. To hear and determine all claims for awards filed with the Office pursuant to article twenty-two, and to
reinvestigate or reopen cases as necessary.
During fiscal year 2011-12 the OVS rendered 17,804 original decisions which includes awards and denials
made by the Office. Claims were reinvestigated or reopened as necessary.
6. To direct medical examination of victims.
In order to determine the causal relationship between the injuries claimed by victims and the medical
services rendered or to be rendered, approximately 23 referrals in fiscal year 2011-12 were made to medical,
psychological, chiropractic or dental consultants.
7. To hold hearings, administer oaths or affirmations, examine any person under oath or affirmation and to issue
subpoenas requiring the attendance and giving of testimony of witnesses and require the production of any
books, papers, documentary or other evidence. The powers provided in this subdivision may be delegated by
the Director to any member or employee. A subpoena issued under this subdivision shall be regulated by the
civil practice law and rules.
177 claim decisions were reviewed and had decisions rendered by the Office as a result of appeals submitted
by crime victims or their family members. Oaths and affirmations were administered, subpoenas were issued
when deemed necessary and testimony was taken.
8. To take or cause to be taken affidavits or depositions within or without the State.
The OVS has taken affidavits or depositions when it was deemed necessary.
9. To establish and maintain a special investigative unit to expedite processing of claims by senior citizens and
special emergency situations, and to promote the establishment of a volunteer program of home visitation to
elderly and invalid victims of violent crime.
OVS has designated an essential personal property (EPP) unit to handle only EPP claims. The majority of
original awarded claims submitted by senior citizens (60 yr. and over) are for EPP only, therefore this unit is
expediting the claims of most senior citizens. In addition, OVS has advocates which handle special
emergency situations. There are also numerous OVS funded community victim assistance programs serving
the elderly across the state.
10. To advise and assist the governor in developing policies designed to recognize the legitimate rights, needs
and interests of crime victims.
OVS annually submits a list of legislative proposals to the Governor for his review and for the subsequent
development of his legislative program. OVS reviews legislation at the request of the Governor and provides
comment on the impact, if any, to the agency and crime victims.
11. To coordinate state programs and activities relating to crime victims.
During the fiscal year, OVS regularly met with its Advisory Council and with crime victims’ coalitions and
other crime victim advocates. The Director serves on the New York State Sentencing Commission, the NYS
Domestic Violence Advisory Council, the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, and the Violence
Against Women Act Advisory Committee. OVS is also represented on the NYS Interagency Task Force on
HIV/AIDS, the NYS Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, the Committee for the Coordination of Police Services
to Elderly Persons, the NYS Disaster Preparedness Commission, the National Association of Crime Victim
Compensation Boards, and the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators.
12. To cooperate with and assist political subdivisions of the State and not-for-profit organizations in the
development of local programs for crime victims.
Information and referral services have been requested by and provided to the police, county sheriff’s
departments, county executives, DAs offices and the 189 victim/witness assistance programs funded by OVS in
These programs provided services ranging from crisis intervention/counseling to assisting crime victims with
filing for compensation. In addition, there were VAP trainings in regional locations as well as individual site
locations which were conducted by the Grants Unit. Approximately 500 individuals were trained this year by
the Grants Unit. Different topics were covered at these various VAP trainings which included compensation,
VOCA guidelines, fiscal reporting guidelines and OVS guidelines. When necessary, OVS provided technical
assistance and produced Advisory Bulletins on current issues or policies, which are available on our website
13. To study the operation of laws and procedures affecting crime victims and recommend to the Governor and
Legislature proposals to improve the administration and effectiveness of such laws.
OVS tracks legislative bills potentially affecting crime victims. The Office also keeps abreast of rules and
regulations potentially affecting crime victims proposed by other State agencies, most notably: the Division
of Criminal Justice Services, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Division of State
Police and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
14. To establish an Advisory Council to assist in formulation of policies on the problems of crime victims and to
provide recommendations to the Director to improve the delivery of services to victims by the Office.
Since March 1985, experts in the field of victim assistance, human services and criminal justice have provided
the Office with their knowledge and expertise relating to crime victim policy and service delivery through the
15. To work with national associations, statewide coalitions, regional coalitions, victim service providers, and
other advocates to address and advance the rights and interests of crime victims of the state.
The Office consults regularly with the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, and the
National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators and participates in their regional and national
conferences. In addition, OVS staff attends regional coalition meetings around the State and works with
Victim Assistance Programs, allied professionals and other State agencies to advance the rights and
interests of crime victims of the State.
16. To promote and conduct studies, research, analysis and investigations of matters affecting the interests
OVS was able to conduct several ad-hoc programmatic and fiscal analyses related to its compensation
program as needed and requested.
17. To coordinate training opportunities for crime victim advocates and service providers.
Each month the Office provides compensation training to Victim Assistance Program (VAP) staff in each of its
three offices. This is designed to ensure that victim advocates around the State are fully informed about the
benefits available through the Office to innocent crime victims. In addition, the Grants Unit staff offer a
variety of training programs to VAPs on issues related to their grants with OVS. The legal staff offers training
on restitution and the OVS Direct Reimbursement Forensic Rape Exam program. In addition, Grants staff are
available to provide on-site technical assistance to VAPs as needed.
18. To serve as a clearinghouse for information relating to crime victims’ problems and programs.
OVS continues to maintain a multi-disciplinary clearinghouse of studies, books, reports, journals, and other
printed materials relating to crime victims. These materials address the rights, needs and interests of crime
victims as they pertain to victim compensation, victim assistance and the status of victims in the criminal
19. To accept, with approval of the Governor, as agent of the state, any grant including federal grants, or any
gifts for the purpose of article twenty-two. Any monies so received may be expended by the Office to
effectuate any purpose of article twenty-two, subject to the applicable provisions of the State Finance Law.
In fiscal year 2011-12, OVS was awarded $11,523,000 from federal funds for victim compensation. That same
year the OVS received $23,970,000 from federal funds for victim assistance.
20. To render each year to the Governor and the Legislature, on or before December first of each year, a written
report on the Office’s activities including, but not limited to, specific information on each of the subdivisions
of section 623 of the Executive Law, and the manner in which the rights, needs and interests of crime victims
are being addressed by the state’s criminal justice system. Such report shall also include, but not be limited
a) Information transmitted by the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives under subdivision five of
section 390.30 of the Criminal Procedure Law and subdivision seven of section 351.1 of the Family Court
Act which the Office shall compile, review and make recommendations on how to promote the use of
restitution and encourage enforcement.
b) Information relating to the implementation of and compliance with article twenty-three of the executive
law by the criminal justice agencies and the "crime victim-related agencies" of the state. Such report
shall also include but not be limited to information regarding crime victim service programs, including:
(1) the programs funded by the office;
(2) other sources of funding for crime victims service programs;
(3) an assessment of the adequacy of the current level of appropriation to the office to meet the reasonable
needs of crime victims service programs for funding under section six hundred thirty-one-a of this article;
(4) an estimate of the reasonable needs of programs in the next fiscal year.
Victim Impact Statements
The Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) transmitted to OVS data detailing the number
of family court victim impact statements and criminal court victim impact statements requested, received
and sent to court through the OPCA.
A successful restitution collection initiative is dependent upon the cooperation and coordination of the other
criminal justice components, as well as the statutory authority to fulfill the objectives of the program.
Following are the OVS’s recommendations regarding restitution:
• Repeal penal law exempting defendants from paying surcharge if restitution is paid in full. (A.7956 of
• Prosecuting attorneys should be encouraged to use a standard victim impact statement which solicits
information regarding pecuniary damages suffered by the victim, as well as any benefits paid by OVS.
• The DA should also be encouraged to use a standardized sentencing order which incorporates
restitution as part of sentencing in all criminal cases.
• Clerks of the courts should be more diligent in distributing monies collected from the offender and in
notifying OVS of monies collected.
• All officers preparing Pre-Sentencing Reports should ask the victim if they have applied to the OVS
and/or if they have received an award from the OVS and the amount.
• DAs should be more diligent in their responsibility to file restitution orders as civil judgments in order to
facilitate collection efforts and use a standardized restitution order which can be found on our website
• Clerks should be more diligent in properly recording the filed orders and the named judgment creditors
in order to facilitate collection efforts.
• The Office of Court Administration (OCA) should encourage the use of the Judges’ Desk Reference on
Restitution which was prepared by OVS and provided to both OCA and the Judicial Institute.
21. To make grants to local crime victim service programs and carry out related duties under section 631-a of
Approximately $34.4 million in state and federal funds were appropriated to the Office for grant-making
purposes in fiscal year 2011-12. These funds enabled the Office to assist crime victims with services in
approximately 189 programs. In addition to the auditing and monitoring functions, the Grants unit provided
continuing technical assistance and support to Grants Victim Assistance programs.
22. To delegate to specified employees of the Office the power to disallow claims under circumstances where
regulations of the Office provide for disallowance without prejudice to reopening of claims.
Rules and regulations implementing this subdivision are in place. These rules allow staff to close specific
types of claims without prejudice to their reopening.
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