So you were involved in a criminal case that has cost you time, money, pain and suffering, but you weren’t the offender, you were a victim. There is a system in place for you that allow you to be compensated for your suffering; that compensation is called “restitution”. There have been instances where a court may order that the criminal defendant pay restitution to a victim. If not court ordered. There are times where a victim has filed a civil case against the defendant for the damages that they may have caused, which is also an option to receive money for losses.
In the event of a criminal act, a victim has two ways to be compensation for their losses, restitution and there are specific crime victim compensation statutes that are in place and vary from state to state.
Restitution, much like any other fines issued by the court, can be used against a defendant as part of their sentence, this decision does not entirely have to be at the hands of the victim, and if restitution is not required, it is okay to ask a judge to justify that decision.
To a defendant, restitution is considered a fine but they are not exactly the same. The fine is a form of punishment; the restitution is a form of repayment. Much like a personal injury case, restitution is paid to a victim whose life has changed emotionally and/or financially due to the incident in question, and if this can be seen as a form of rehabilitation for a defendant. For example, if a defendant steals a victim’s vehicle and sells it, it is very likely the defendant will then be held responsible for restoring the damages as well as jail time.
Restitution is paid out to the affected parties as it relates to the criminal offense. If there was a murder, the surviving family may be paid. Restitution is also paid to those who may have compensated a victim during the victims suffering, and paid out to specific expenses. For example:
- Employment (loss wages)
- Damaged property
A victim must also consider the defendant’s ability to repay the debt or damages, as asking someone for what they do not have is very irrational. There are several stipulations to restitution and if you or someone you know has been sentenced to restitution, it is best to speak with a skilled attorney in Dekalb County, GA that will be able to explain your rights and what is expected of you.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and restitution.