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What you need to know about restitution and when a judge may order it

| Jan 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If you’re facing fraud, embezzlement or other white-collar charges or any other type of federal ones for that matter, then you’re probably not just facing imprisonment but also potential fines to include having to pay restitution.

You may find it helpful to learn what restitution is, who imposes it and how much you can expect to pay in the event a judge or jury convicts you of a crime. 

What role does restitution serve?

Restitution is a penalty for a crime, much like a prison sentence. Prosecutors will often calculate how much money or the value of the property they allege that a defendant took from someone and ask a judge to order them to pay that amount to their victim. 

Prosecutors sometimes petition judges to sentence defendants to pay restitution instead of sending them to prison. Whether prosecutors can make such a request or a judge can order it depends on whether state or federal sentencing guidelines allow them to do so. 

How does restitution compare to fines?

Fines are punitive fees paid to the government that the court may impose with the expectation of it discouraging individuals from committing a similar offense. Restitution is a financial sum that a judge may order a convicted defendant to pay their victim for their losses in hopes of restoring their pre-offense financial status or, at least, compensate them for their losses in some way.

How do convicted defendants pay restitution?

The facilitation of restitution payment varies depending on whether someone convicted of a crime is put on probation or parole or incarcerated. 

A judge may order a defendant out on supervised release to voluntarily pay a certain amount toward the overall restitution amount each month. The court may also set up a garnishment of those funds from the defendant’s paycheck at set intervals. 

The court may set up an inmate trust account for incarcerated defendants. Any funds that they earn from a prison job get deposited into this account. States can generally garnish up to 50% of the wages that an inmate earns while imprisoned. 

No matter what criminal charges you are facing, it’s smart to understand all of the potential outcomes of your case. Speak with an experienced advocate about your issues today so that you can begin focusing on your best avenue of defense.