Posted on March 10, 2017

Explanation of “Restitution” in Orange County Criminal Cases

The purpose of restitution is to ensure the purported victim is made whole.  The law is written to protective crime victims and without having them made whole for their loss, then it may deter people from coming forward and reporting crime.

Restitution is ordinarily ordered when an alleged victim suffers physical injury or economic loss as a direct result from the crime(s).  This includes medical bills, vehicle damage, loss of work, attorney’s fees, or money to replace a stolen item.  Before the judge orders restitution, a defendant must first be convicted of the charges.  If the case ends in a conviction, the court will order restitution as a condition of probation.

A defendant is not expected to pay the full restitution amount at a sentencing hearing unless it was agreed upon by the District Attorney as a pre-condition to a plea bargain.  For instance, some prosecutors agree to reduce the charges if the defendant pays the full restitution amount.  In most instances, after a defendant is sentenced, the judge will calendar an evidentiary hearing date to determine the amount of the alleged victim suffered.

Often, alleged victims improperly use the court’s enforcement power as leverage against a defendant.  Moreover, a purported victim may embellish or even fabricate an amount knowing is likely to unquestionably enforce that amount.  Retaining an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Orange County to handle restitution hearings is critical to ensure that alleged victim is not over-stating the amount owed.  A proper investigation may include subpoenaing documents or questioning witnesses which could all be used to dispute the accuser’s representation(s).

Usually a defendant will have the entire probation period to pay off the restitution amount.  This is usually done through the probation department or collections by making monthly payments.  If the restitution amount is not paid before probation expires, the court may elect to extend probation further or order it as a civil judgment.

For more information or to schedule a free confidential consultation, contact an Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.

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