Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker realizes that the issues involved with restitution can be complicated. There are informational brochures, one of which is reproduced in part below, but there are other issues and factors that may need to be reviewed by an attorney.
Restitution is a responsibility that must be tended to following a criminal conviction The Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board has complied a brochure that is provided to individuals who are sentenced to restitution. The brochure covers both Adult and Juvenile Restitution. While the brochure that was reproduced in part below is from the government, advising as to the responsibilities of a person who is ordered to pay restitution, there are unique circumstances where some of the information below may be modified or changed. You can have an attorney, on your behalf apply for modification or ask the courts permission for certain privileges like out of state visits.
What is Restitution?
Restitution is the payment of money to a victim who suffered losses due to your criminal conduct. You must pay restitution to the victim of the crime you committed for any monetary losses you caused during that crime. Those losses might include stolen cash or property, medical bills, car repair bills, funeral expenses, or other costs. Repaying a victim for losses is your responsibility. The law requires the judge to order you to pay restitution fines and orders, other fines, and penalty assessments.
What is a restitution order?
The judge issues a restitution order when a victim has losses because of the crime you committed. The law requires the judge to order you to pay the entire amount of the victim's expenses from the crime. You cannot negotiate the amount. The order cannot be waived if you don't have the ability to pay.
If you are sentenced before the victim's losses are determined, the judge can order restitution with a condition that the amount is "to be determined." Once the victim knows the expenses, and gives them to the judge, the judge will order you to pay that amount.
You may also be responsible for expenses that family members of the victim may have, such as counseling expenses or funeral costs.
Where does the money from the restitution order go?
The money you pay toward a restitution order goes to the victim to pay for the losses caused by your criminal offense(s). however, when the Victim Compensation Program has already paid for the Victim's losses, the judge must order you to repay the Victim Compensation Program so it can continue to help other victims of crime.
Is a restitution order a life-long debt?
Yes. A restitution order does not go away until it is paid. It is your legal obligation to pay. At any time, if you do not pay your restitution, the victim can enforce the restitution order as if it were a civil judgement.
What is a restitution fine?
State law requires all offenders to pay a restitution fine when convicted or found guilty of committing a crime. It is part of your punishment. When you are sentenced, the judge must order you to pay at least the minimum restitution fine. The fine cannot be waived because you do not have the ability to pay.
The Judge will require you to pay the following:
* Adult misdemeanor convictions- at least $100 and not more than $1,000
* Adult Felony convictions - at least $200 and not more than $10,,,
* Juvenile misdemeanors - not more than $100
* Juvenile felonies - at least $100 and not more than $1,00
When a restitution fine for more than the minimum amount is being considered, the judge will look at the seriousness of your crime, the victim's losses, and you ability to pay. Even if you cannot pay now, the judge will consider your future earning ability.
Where does the money from restitution fine go?
* Medical and dental treatment
* Mental health counseling
* Income loss, if the victim is disabled because of the crime
* Funeral and burial expense
* Loss of support, for dependents when a victim is killed or disabled because of the crime
* Job retraining, if the victim disabled because of the crime.
* Home security
* Insurance co-payments
* Crime scene cleanup, when a crime happens in someone's home.
* Childcare services, when the caregiver if killed or disabled because of your the crime.
PAYING YOUR RESTITUTION
How do I pay my restitution order and fines?
The ways you can pay restitution will depend on your individual case. Restitution collection methods differ from county to county. Restitution is usually collected by one of the following entities:
* Probation Department
* Revenue Collections for the county
* Parole Officers
* Local facilities such as jail or juvenile hall
* Franchise Tax Board
* California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
* CDCR Division of Juvenile Justice
* Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.
If I am a minor, are my parents or guardians responsible for my restitution obligations?
Yes. A parent or guardian who has joint or sole legal and physical custody of a minor offender is responsible for the minor's restitution obligations. Restitution obligations may include restitution orders, fines, and penalty assessments.
If parents or guardians cannot afford to pay restitution, they must show the judge proof. If they cannot pay now, the judge will consider the parents' or guardians' future earning ability.
What if I am placed on probation?
Under normal circumstances, you will either make payment arraignments with your probation officer, or the judge will determine you payment amounts as party of the cour order. Payments are usually made to the probation office, a court collection unit, or the county's office of revenue and recovery. If you are placed on probation, the restitution fines and orders that were ordered by the judge will be made a term of your probation.
What if I am sentenced to prison?
The CDCR will collect restitution payments. Each month, they will take a certain amount of your prison bank account deposits (also called your trust account deposits) to pay your restitution orders and fines.
What if I am sent to the CDCR Division of Juvenile Justice?
If you are sent to a Division of Juvenile Justice Institution, they are four ways you can pay your restitution:
* You or your family may make voluntary payments at any time. If you make voluntary payments you will avoid administrative fees.
* If you are employed with the Free Venture Program, 15% of your wages will automatically go toward paying off your restitution.
* If you are placed in an institution, half of your incoming deposits, including ward pay, will be deducted from your trust account to pay your restitution fines and orders.
* If you are employed while on parole, your parole agent will establish a payment plan.
What happens if I don't pay?
* Failure to make your restitution payments may be a violation of the terms and conditions of your probation or parole.
* If you do not pay your restitution fine, the state will take money from your paycheck or bank account.
* If you do not pay your restitution order, the order is fully enforceable by the victim and the Victim Compensation Program as if it were a civil judgement. Victims and the program may take money from your paycheck or bank account.
* If you are a juvenile offender and do not pay your restitution in full, the judge may deny your request to remove your conviction from your record.
* When you are released from prison, or discharged from probation, parole, or the Division of Juvenile Justic,e the county and/or the state may send unpaid restitution debts to the Franchise Tax board for collection.
What if I am currently on Parole and want to move out of state?
* You must pay all outstanding restitution fines and orders before you are allowed to leave the state.
* For more information call the CDCR Officer of Victim and Survivors Services.
What if I am currently on juvenile parole and want to move out of state?
* Contact your supervising parole agent.
The above information was provided at the Tulare County Probation Department and is duplicated in whole or in part for informational purposes only. Fresno, Visalia, Tualre, Hanford, Kings County, Madera Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker may be able to assist you wit your legalIt is not intended to be used or taken as legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, Contact an Attorney to advise you of your rights.