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Restitution in Criminal Cases

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What Is Restitution?

Restitution seeks to compensate victims of crime for out-of-pocket expenses related to the offender's crime. For example, a victim who gets assaulted can get restitution for medical expenses and loss of wages, but not for emotional distress. Emotional distress may be caused by the offender, but it is not an out-of-pocket expense. Restitution must be calculated with certainty (based on evidence) before it is granted by a court.

How Do I Get Restitution?

If you are victim of a crime, you have the right to request restitution from the offender. Every court has a process to request restitution, which usually requires the victim to fill out a standard form (the county prosecutor or clerk's office should have these forms). As the victim, you should also submit evidence with the form, such as medical bills or receipts.

How Does a Court Determine How Much Restitution to Give?

Restitution is considered part of an offender's overall punishment and is given by court order. In determining the amount of restitution, judges will take many factors into account. Factors include:

  • The ability of the offender to pay
  • If the offender is going to prison
  • Whether the victim could have avoided the out-of-pocket expenses
  • The type of crime committed

Which Crimes Have the Highest Likelihood of Including Restitution?

Many crimes include a punishment of restitution. Some common examples are:

  • Abuse - Almost any conviction for abuse will result in restitution payment - this includes child, elderly, spousal, or sexual abuse
  • Homicide - Restitution is given to the victim's family
  • Robbery or Burglary - the offender may have to pay full value of the stolen item

Is there Any Way to Fight the Court-Ordered Restitution Payment?

Either the victim or the offender can challenge the amount of restitution handed down by a judge. If you are in this situation, please consult an experienced criminal attorney to help you. You will be able to learn more about your rights, defenses, and options in dealing with the restitution process.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-28-2018 07:34 PM PST

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