If you have been charged with a criminal offense, particularly a violent offense such as assault and battery or robbery, you may hear the term “restitution” throughout the course of your case. “Restitution” is defined as “payment by an offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender’s wrongful acts.” Almost every state, including federal courts, provide judges the option of ordering restitution to a victim, and in many states, restitution is mandatory.
Losses Covered by Restitution
In the criminal justice system, restitution is the equivalent of an award of damages for a civil case, such as compensating someone for car repairs after an accident. Expenses covered by restitution include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical expenses
- Therapy and counseling costs
- Lost wages
- Travel costs and case related expenses
- Costs for lost or damaged property
The type and amount of restitution required in a certain matter will depend on the nature and severity of the crime. If you have been charged with robbery, then restitution might include returning or reimbursing the victim for the stolen property and any related therapy costs. If you have been charged with assault, however, restitution may include payment of all medical expenses.
Restitution May Affect Your Case
If you are considering pleading guilty to the charges against you, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you work with the victim’s attorney, typically the prosecuting attorney, to determine the victim’s out-of-pocket costs. By choosing to work with the victim and voluntarily setting forth your assets to provide the victim with restitution, it may help to show both the judge and victim that you understand and are willing to take responsibility for your actions. In the federal justice system, for example, the level to which an offender takes responsibility for his or her actions is factored into the sentencing procedures and typically results in a substantial reduction of the time you may be required to serve.
How to Pay Restitution
Occasionally, the amount of restitution due the victim is substantial and you may not be able to reimburse the victim upfront. The court will consider your ability to pay and structure payments accordingly, but a criminal defense lawyer can help advocate for a payment structure that balances the victim’s need for compensation and your responsibilities at home. Ensuring that you are not overburdened by compensatory payments so that the victim continues to receive payment and you are still able to make a “fresh start” is essential.
Contact a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney Today
An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in navigating the complex waters of the criminal justice system. An attorney can help you work with the victim, law enforcement, and the court to structure a payment plan that suits all parties. Khonsari Law Group has been serving as criminal defense attorneys in St. Petersburg for many years. Contact our office today for a free, no risk consultation at (727) 269-5300.