While victims typically seek restitution in cases involving larceny or DUI accidents, it is available whenever there is a victim who suffers damages. Payment of restitution to a victim may be a mandatory requirement of probation under California law.
A portion of the fines imposed for criminal convictions in California goes directly to the California Victim Compensation Board, which administers a fund that assists the payment of bills and expenses for the victims of certain violent crimes, including domestic violence, child abuse, child endangerment, and elder abuse. The fund administered by the Victim Compensation Board is distinct from the restitution California courts require as a condition of a defendant’s probation. This fund may assist with medical expenses, lost income, burial expenses, home security, and relocation.
Victims are entitled to collect any out-of-pocket expenses incurred resulting from the conduct of the defendant. Victims make a restitution request to the prosecutor who communicates it to the defendant and defense counsel. Courts generally conduct a hearing after sentencing the defendant to address any claims of restitution. Often, the defendant’s insurance carrier may pay any restitution. Otherwise, defendants may challenge the amount of restitution requested by asking for a restitution hearing.
The restitution hearing typically requires the victim to testify regarding damages and any underlying proof. The defense may cross-examine the victim and present evidence on its behalf. The final decision will rest with the trial judge, who will determine the precise amount of restitution, if any, to award the victim.
The payment of restitution is a requirement of the defendant’s probation. Defendants unable to pay the full amount may be required to make monthly restitution payments as a condition of their probation. Courts may hold a hearing regarding the defendant’s ability to pay restitution where the defendant may present evidence of financial ability to pay. Those defendants who fail to pay the restitution amount in full by the end of their probation period may have their probation extended or their restitution may be converted to a civil judgment. Of course, any willful failure to pay restitution will likely result in the issuance of a probation violation and the imposition of additional penalties. Any failure to pay that is not willful where the defendant is simply unable to afford to make payments would not be considered a violation of probation.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any criminal charge. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.