Domestic Violence Restitution

Domestic Violence RestitutionIn recent years, the California legislature has enacted laws ensuring that any victim who suffers financial damages can collect restitution through the criminal court process instead of having to file a civil lawsuit. Restitution is most often sought in cases involving theft or DUI accidents, however it is available any time there are damages. In some domestic violence cases, there may be restitution owed to the victim and payment of victim restitution would be a mandatory requirement of probation under California Penal Code Section 1203.097 PC.

Restitution and the California Victim Compensation Board

Part of the fines imposed on every criminal conviction in the State of California goes directly to the California Victim Compensation Board. This fund helps to pay bills and expenses for the victims of certain violent crimes, including domestic violence, elder abuse, child endangerment and child abuse. The Victim Compensation Board is completely separate from the restitution required by the Court as part of a defendant’s probation and the defendant would still be personally liable even where the named victim is paid by the Board. The Board can help with medical expenses, income loss, funeral and burial expenses, home security and relocation.

What Type of Restitution Can a Victim Claim in a Domestic Violence Case?

The victim is entitled to collect any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the defendant’s conduct. In domestic violence cases, this may often include medical bills or treatment expenses, counselling, loss of income, relocation expenses and improvement to home security.

When restitution is requested, the Court will typically set a court date after the defendant’s sentencing to address the claim. The victim will provide his or her restitution request to the prosecutor, who will then communicate this to the defendant and his or her counsel. In many cases, the defendant’s insurer may cover the restitution requested. The defendant is allowed to challenge the restitution amount by requesting a restitution hearing.

The Restitution Hearing

If the defendant does not agree with the amount of restitution requested, he or she can request a hearing. The victim would be expected to testify regarding damages incurred and to produce documentation regarding the damages. The defense would have an opportunity to cross-examine the victim and present evidence. Ultimately, the judge will determine what amount of restitution, if any, to award the victim.

Payment of Restitution and Probation

Payment of restitution is a requirement of probation. If the defendant is unable to pay the full amount requested by the victim, the Court may order that the defendant make monthly payments to the victim as a condition of probation. The Court may hold an Ability to Pay hearing in which the defendant can present evidence of his or her financial situation in order to determine how much the defendant’s monthly payments should be. If the defendant has not paid the restitution amount in full by the end of his or her probation period, the Court may extend probation or the Court may convert the restitution amount to a civil judgement that would affect the defendant’s credit rating and ability to purchase property or vehicles.

If the defendant willfully fails to pay restitution, the Court can issue a probation violation and impose additional penalties. If the failure to pay is not willful and the defendant cannot financially afford to make payments, this would not be considered a violation of probation.

If you or a loved one have been charged with domestic violence and want to know more about restitution, it is critical that you discuss your situation with a skilled domestic violence attorney immediately. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands this complex area of the law and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.

For more information about domestic violence and restitution, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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