In a criminal case, restitution consists of monetary amounts that are paid by the defendant to the victim, in order to compensate them for losses associated with the crime. Restitution is ordered by the judge and is generally considered part of the sentence. Criminal restitution must be calculated with certainty and can cover costs such as:
- Medical bills, hospital costs, and other expenses
- Property damage
- Returning of property stolen, or an equivalent dollar amount
Restitution is often paid out in small amounts by the defendant in monthly installments.
How Is Restitution Different from Crime Victim Compensation?
Some courts and jurisdictions offer what is called "Crime Victim Compensation". This is a program that is intended to help relieve the victim of various costs associated with the trial and criminal case. It is different from restitution, which is issued as a part of the sentencing during trial.
Crime victim compensation may cover costs such as:
- Various medical expenses
- Counseling, therapy, or rehabilitation expenses for the victim
- In some cases, lost wages due to injury or due to court appearances
- Expenses associated with funeral and burial services
- Some degree of crime scene clean-up if needed
Thus, crime victim compensation tends to cover more administrative costs associated with the trial procedures, rather than the substantive losses caused by the crime itself. States may vary regarding these specific remedy definitions.
Which One Is Available for Me?
Generally speaking, restitution is dependent on the judge’s ruling, as well as calculations that are made during official court proceedings. On the other hand, crime victim compensation must be applied for, and only certain criminal victims qualify for these programs.
As mentioned, restitution can take some time to be paid out fully. As a result, some victims tend to favor crime victim compensation as a quicker way to make up for losses related to the case. In any event, major decisions such as these are best approached under the guidance and direction of a criminal lawyer.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Criminal remedies can often be subject to laws which vary from state to state. You may wish to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you need assistance with restitution, crime victim compensation, or other remedies. Your attorney can inform you of your rights and can help instruct you as to which option will be the most efficient for you. Also, if you need general representation or advice, your criminal lawyer can be on hand to provide you with legal services for your case.