WHAT IS RESTITUTION?
When someone is sentenced in a criminal case, as part of that sentence the court may order the defendant to compensate the victim for losses suffered as a result of the crime? This is called restitution.
WHEN IS RESTITUTION ORDERED?
Restitution is included as part of a sentence in a criminal case when:
- the court considers it necessary for rehabilitation
- it’s needed to make the victim “whole,” and
- the victim’s financial losses are directly related to the defendant’s crime.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE RESTITUTION PAYMENTS?
The judge will consider and order restitution for various reasons
- Direct Victims – restitution may be paid to the person who directly suffers injury or loss as a result of the defendant’s crime. The victim can be an individual, partnership, corporation, or any other association or entity.
- Indirect Victims – in a murder case, the surviving family members of the murder victim are eligible to receive restitution.
- Third Parties – restitution can be paid to any entity that has provided recovery to the victim as a collateral source, such as victim compensation programs, government entities, and victim service agencies.
What Expenses Does Restitution Cover?
Restitution can be ordered to reimburse a victim for a variety of expenses related to a crime.
- Funeral expenses. All expenses associated with the funeral and estate closing costs are usually considered appropriate for restitution in homicide cases
- Lost wages. If a victim missed work because of injuries from a criminal act or because of participation in the court process, the victim can ask to be compensated for these lost wages. Victims who are self-employed stand to lose far more from not being able to work, so they can ask for restitution for lost profits.
- Medical expenses. Medical expenses such as hospital costs, physical therapy, and rehabilitation care are generally included.
- Lost or damaged property. Courts can order restitution for the replacement or repair value of stolen property that cannot be returned and for the cost of any property damage. In the event that specialized cleanup is required (such as removal of biohazard waste from a homicide scene or meth house), these expenses can be included in restitution amounts.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T MAKE MY RESTITUTION PAYMENTS?