Everything You Need to Know About Restitution in Criminal Cases

February 28, 2022 Criminal Defense

Restitution is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner.” When people think of restoring something lost, whether it be the value of goods or stolen money itself, many think of civil litigation. But restitution can come into play during criminal proceedings as well. If you are convicted of a criminal offense in the state of Florida, a part of your sentence could be the payment of restitution to those your crimes affected. Judges are permitted in Florida to order restitution for the “damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant’s offense.” If the amount of restitution is in controversy, the judge will decide the amount to be paid based on the “preponderance of the evidence” with the burden placed on the State to prove the amount necessary.

The Restitution Statute

Restitution is codified in Section 775.089 of the Florida Statutes. It states that:

In addition to any punishment, the court shall order the defendant to make restitution to the victim for:

1. Damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant’s offense; and

2. Damage or loss related to the defendant’s criminal episode,

unless it finds clear and compelling reasons not to order such restitution. Restitution may be monetary or nonmonetary restitution.

The victim as defined in the statute refers to:

1. Each person who suffers property damage or loss, monetary expense, or physical injury or death as a direct or indirect result of the defendant’s offense or criminal episode, and also includes the victim’s estate if the victim is deceased, and the victim’s next of kin if the victim is deceased as a result of the offense. The term includes governmental entities and political subdivisions, as those terms are defined in s. 11.45, when such entities are a direct victim of the defendant’s offense or criminal episode and not merely providing public services in response to the offense or criminal episode.

2. The term also includes the victim’s trade association if the offense is a violation of s. 540.11(3)(a)3. involving the sale, or possession for purposes of sale, of physical articles and the victim has granted the trade association written authorization to represent the victim’s interests in criminal legal proceedings and to collect restitution on the victim’s behalf. The restitution obligation in this subparagraph relating to violations of s. 540.11(3)(a)3. applies only to physical articles and does not apply to electronic articles or digital files that are distributed or made available online. As used in this subparagraph, the term “trade association” means an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry to protect their collective interests.

If the offense results in bodily injury to the victim, the defendant can be ordered to:

  1. Pay the cost of necessary medical and related professional services and devices relating to physical, psychiatric, and psychological care, including nonmedical care and treatment rendered in accordance with a recognized method of healing.

2. Pay the cost of necessary physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation.

3. Reimburse the victim for income lost by the victim as a result of the offense.

4. In the case of an offense which resulted in bodily injury that also resulted in the death of a victim, pay an amount equal to the cost of necessary funeral and related services.

What is the Purpose of Restitution?

Restitution is not meant to be a punishment, meaning it is not solely punitive. It is meant to be equitable, and its purpose is to restore the victims of the crime financially to the place they were before they were affected by the criminal action.

What Crimes Usually Result in Restitution?

Many crimes can result in the court ordering the payment of restitution to victims, but the most common are:

Less common but still occasionally seen as resulting in restitution payments are the following criminal offenses:

Generally, restitution is ordered in these types of cases in order to pay for any injuries to the victim, any resulting medical bills, and sometimes, lost income.

Failing to Pay Restitution

Restitution payments are incredibly important. If failure to pay occurs, it will be treated as a violation of a condition of probation and parole. This means it could send you back to jail or prison. Unlike civil judgments, restitution cannot be wiped away by the declaration of bankruptcy.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

Restitution payments can be difficult to make when a defendant is freshly released from incarceration and without fruitful job prospects. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime where restitution could be ordered as part of the sentence, contact a qualified Tallahassee criminal defense attorney today to discuss your case. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm will fight zealously for you or a loved one. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your legal matter during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

Written by Gabi D’Esposito

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