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What Is Restitution?

July 2, 2019

If you fail to pay restitution, you could face a civil judgment

What Is Restitution?

If you are convicted of a crime, you may expect to be sentenced to jail or prison, to pay fees, or to be required to do community service.  What many people do not realize is that restitution is a part of the sentence for criminal offenses in California.

As a criminal attorney Rancho Cucamonga, CA can explain, there are two types of restitution in California: victim restitution and restitution fines.  Victim restitution is intended to compensate a victim for any losses that they may have suffered as a result of a crime, including stolen, damaged or destroyed property, lost wages, damage to a business or its property, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and medical and/or therapy bills.  A victim could be the person who directly suffered the harm, the family of the individual who suffered the direct harm, or a business, government or other organization that suffered a loss due to a criminal act.

In contrast, restitution fines are considered a punishment.  They are based on the seriousness of the crime.  For felony cases, a fine can range from $300 to $10,000.  For misdemeanors, the fine will be between $150 and $1,000.

A defendant has the right to request a restitution hearing if he or she disputes the victim’s losses.  These hearings may also be held if the victim doesn’t know the exact amount of his or her losses.  At the hearing, the victim has the burden of proving that it was the defendant’s conduct that substantially caused their losses, and that the amount of compensation that they are requesting is proper.  A defendant can be represented be an experienced criminal attorney Rancho Cucamonga, CA at this hearing, and has the right to challenge the evidence presented at the hearing, as well as any restitution amount ordered.

If probation is ordered, paying both fines and victim restitution must be a condition of probation. If probation ends and a defendant still owes restitution, any amount that is owed becomes enforceable as though it were a civil money judgment.  The person who is owed the money — the victim or even the government — could initiate collection proceedings using this judgment.  If this happens, the defendant could be responsible for the costs of collection, plus interest (at 10% per year).

In California, victims have a number of rights, including the right to restitution.  It is important to hire a criminal attorney Rancho Cucamonga, CA who understands how to handle restitution hearings as part of your defense strategy.  If you are convicted of a crime, it is important that you be able to pay off your restitution fines and victim compensation so that you can move forward with your life after you have paid your debt to society.

At the Chambers Law Firm, we aggressively advocate for our clients through each stage of the criminal justice process.  Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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