Victims of Crime and Restitution: What Those Accused Need to Know
Did you know that certain victims of crime may be well within their rights to pursue restitution or compensation for damages associated with the crime? The victim’s expenses in any crime situation could add up.
There exist two primary mechanisms that victims may use to receive compensation for the costs associated with a criminal act. These are criminal victim compensation statutes and restitution. Restitution is a process by which the court mandates a defendant to compensate a victim through monetary amends, or by some act that benefits the victim, for any losses sustained as part of a crime.
Restitution is often used to require the offender to respond directly for the consequences of the particular crime he committed. For example, if the defendant has been convicted of stealing a flat screen t.v. and some jewelry out of someone’s home, he may be ordered to reimburse the victim for the value of the t.v. and the jewelry. If the defendant is convicted of assault, he may be ordered to pay all of the victim’s out of pocket expenses relating to the crime, including the full amount of the victim’s medical expenses and lost wages.
Courts must contemplate restitution as part of any sentence, even if the victim does not specifically request it. This means that restitution may even be included in plea bargains. When a judge fails to order restitution or partial restitution only, a justification may need to be required on the record. Fines and restitution are actually separate things so while both are considered financial costs that could be imposed on a defendant in a criminal sentence, fines are predetermined penalties paid directly to the court. However, restitution is intended to repay a victim for the losses associated with a crime itself.
Restitution may be included as part of a criminal case sentence when it is necessary to make the victim whole again, when the victim’s financial losses are tied to the defendant’s actions in a particular crime, and when the court considers it necessary for rehabilitation purposes. Speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney can give you a better perspective on restitution and whether or not it may be requested or ordered in your particular case.
Direct victims, indirect victims, the government, and third parties may all be entitled to restitution under the circumstances of a crime. Schedule a consultation today with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about these issues and how they may affect your criminal defense case.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.