The California Constitution contains a Victims’ Bill of Rights Act that includes the right to restitution. It states:
“All persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.”
“Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss.”
As defined in a legal context, restitution is “the act of making good or giving equivalent for any loss, damage or injury.” In this context in California, it applies to the victim’s crime-related expenses. The purpose of restitution is to help victims recover from any financial hardship caused by any criminal activity.
An important component of restitution is the State Restitution Fund which the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) oversees, ensuring the existence of funding to assist victims of crime. This sourcing receives most of its revenue from restitution fines, diversion fees, orders, and penalties paid by criminal offenders. CalVCB also receives federal grant monies from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds, which are penalties paid by offenders convicted of federal crimes.
There are two types of restitution – a Restitution Order and a Restitution Fine. Under California law, every offender convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in California is required to pay a restitution fine. All restitution fines paid by offenders go to the Restitution Fund which supports CalVCB. A Restitution Fine is considered an offender’s debt to society.
The court imposes a restitution order to cover actual crime-related expenses incurred by a victim as a result of the crime. A Restitution Order is an offender’s debt to the victim. State law requires judges to order the offender to pay restitution in every case in which the victim has suffered an economic loss resulting from the crime.
State law requires judges to impose a restitution fine at the time of sentencing. For juveniles, the fines range from $0 to $100 for a misdemeanor and $100 to $1,000 for a felony. The range of fines for adult offenders is $150 to $1,000 for a misdemeanor and $300 to $10,000 for a felony.
The imposition of restitution is facilitated by the CalVCB jointly with prosecutors, probation officers, courts, and other state departments. To promote the collection of any restitution owed, CalVCB works with county offices, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). In most circumstances, those convicted of crimes make restitution payments directly to their county collections office, the probation office, the CDCR, or the FTB.
The following are some victims’ expenses that restitution may cover:
- Attorney fees
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Home or vehicle modifications
- Medical and dental services
- Mental health counseling
- Property loss – stolen or damaged property
- Support losses
- Relocation expenses
- Residential security
John Patrick Dolan defends those Californians charged with criminal offenses but he also helps them find the road to recovery through diversion programs and other available programs. Mr. Dolan has over forty years of experience helping well-intentioned Californians move forward from their criminal past and make lasting contributions to the Coachella Valley as valued members of the community. Call the Dolan Law Firm today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.