A Second Level Of Financial Punishment


For those convicted of crimes, punishments can vary widely depending on the seriousness of the crime and other factors. More and more states are recognizing the impact of a crime on individual victims, however, and that can mean greater financial ramifications for defendants.

Victim Restitution

Only certain crimes will call for victim restitution but not all of them have anything to do with financial issues. While victim restitution is meant to cover the financial losses and reduce the impact of those losses on victims, it is also a form of punishment. Some of the money defendants are ordered to pay don't actually go to the victim themselves but to funds that pay for education, advocacy, and crime prevention. It's nothing new for defendants to be ordered to pay back stolen monies or fraudulent gains, but now the definition has widened to include payments to victims of murder, assault, kidnapping, rape, and more.

What Defines the Victim

With its focus on victims, the family members of victims may also benefit from restitution in some cases. Take a look at some examples of what else might be included in the term "victim":

  1. Not just people but businesses can receive restitution. For example, a store or a non-profit agency could benefit if property was stolen. Even government entities can receive restitution. Those defrauding Social Security Disability programs, for example, might be ordered to repay funds along with penalties.
  2. The direct victim of the crime as well as family members of murdered victims may gain compensation.
  3. Health insurance agencies can apply for reimbursement for the medical care extended for crime victims.

Where Does the Money Come From?

Some defendants have more financial resources than others. In all cases, victim restitution is based on the defendant's ability to pay. Often, financial arrangements include regular payments along with the capture of assets. Even defendants that are incarcerated could potentially earn income in jail. In addition, restitution funds might come from:

  • The sale of property, such as homes or vehicles.
  • Bank, savings, and investment accounts.
  • Garnishment on wages if the defendant is not incarcerated.
  • Future earnings from book deals or other financial recompense arising from the crime.

There are rules about victims being paid two times for the same event. In some cases, victims file suit against the defense attorney and seek compensation in civil court. For example, the family of a murder victim might file suit for wrongful death. If the lawsuit is won or a settlement is made to the victim, the money paid is taken into consideration when determining the amount of victim restitution.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested and charged with a crime, you will need an attorney that understands all possible ramifications of being convicted, including that of victim restitution. Speak to a criminal defense attorney to learn more about fighting the charges.


9 October 2019

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