Restitution in Criminal Cases
In California, a victim of a crime has the right to restitution if they suffered a financial loss as a result. This right is provided in the California Constitution, specifically art 1, §28(b)(13), as well as the California Penal Code (§ 1202.4). Victims of crimes who have suffered a financial loss as a result of a crime committed by a minor are also entitled to restitution (California Welfare and Institutions Code § 730.6). Restitution can be ordered for any type of crime, regardless of whether it is a felony, misdemeanor, white collar crime, theft, violent crime, or DUI. When a defendant is convicted of a crime, the Court will order the defendant to pay restitution to any victims. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances and terms of the disposition, the defendant may be liable for paying restitution to victims who suffered a financial loss on any dismissed charges. As such, it is important to know who is considered a victim, what constitutes a financial loss, and how restitution is ultimately decided.What Constitutes a Victim for Purposes of Restitution?
A victim, for purposes of restitution, is anyone who has suffered direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm resulting from the defendant’s commission or attempt to commit a crime. A victim may also include the person’s parents, children, siblings, and a few other types of individuals depending on the circumstances. If the commission of the crime resulted in someone’s death, the decedent’s immediate surviving family are considered the victim (Penal Code § 1202.4(k)). A victim, for purposes of restitution, may also be a corporation, estate, or other type of entity. For instance, such as an embezzlement case, where it is alleged that money was taken from the company.What Constitutes a Financial Loss for Purposes of Restitution
California Penal Code § 1202.4(f) provides that all types of economic losses and goes on to provide the following examples: full or partial payment for the value of stolen or damaged property; medical expenses; mental health counseling expense; lost wages or profits due to injury; relocation expenses; and security installation expenses or other necessary improvements, to name a few different situations for which restitution could be ordered.How Is a Restitution Amount Ultimately Determined?
There are different ways in which a specific restitution amount can be decided. The parties, for instance, can agree to an amount. An agreement can be reached prior to a resolution on the case or after. If a specific amount has not been determined prior to sentencing, the Court will typically set another court date, a restitution setting, about a month out to allow time for the victims to make a request and provide supporting documentation. If an agreement is not reached, the matter will then be set for a restitution hearing where the victim(s) would need to present evidence and provide testimony in support of their claim showing that the victim(s) incurred losses which were the result of the defendant’s crime. The defendant will have an opportunity to challenge the requested amount, scrutinize any supporting documents, and cross-examine any witnesses. Ultimately, the judge would decide the appropriate amount.
If you or a family member have been charged with a crime and are facing felony or misdemeanor charges out of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County, it is imperative that you hire the best attorney that you can to explore all options available. Attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience defending clients in criminal cases and litigating contested restitution amounts to secure the absolute best result.
For more information about restitution, and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.