May 20, 2024 By Paul Wallin

Will I Have To Pay Restitution If I Am Convicted Of A Crime?

People v. Berlin

A woman was charged with misdemeanors, including a felony stalking charge. After placing her on mental health diversion, the court suspended her trial proceedings. Two years later, her case came on the calendar for a victim impact statement in which the prosecution sought to impose restitution. The woman moved to have her case dismissed after completing the diversion program. The trial court ordered her to pay restitution and the woman appealed.

The appeals court relied on section 1001.36(f)(1)(D), which requires a court to hold a hearing to determine whether victims of a crime are owed restitution during the diversion period. The appeals court held that, because the language stated it should be “no more than two years”, the prosecution could not seek restitution after this period.

If you are facing criminal charges in California, one of the many concerns you might have is whether you will be required to pay restitution if convicted. Restitution is a legal obligation for convicted individuals to compensate victims for their losses. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of what restitution entails in the context of criminal convictions in California, helping you understand your potential liabilities and rights.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can guide you through the legal process. Call Wallin & Klarich today toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for your free consultation with our experienced attorneys.

Understanding Restitution

What is Restitution?

Restitution is a court-ordered payment made by the defendant to the victim for the losses or damages caused by the defendant’s criminal actions. Unlike fines, which are paid to the state, restitution is specifically intended to make the victim whole by covering their financial losses.

How is Restitution Calculated?

Restitution amounts can vary significantly depending on the specifics of the crime and the victim’s losses. The calculation typically includes:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs incurred for medical treatment due to the crime.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost as a result of the crime.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace damaged or stolen property.
  • Emotional Distress: In some cases, restitution may include compensation for psychological harm.

Who is Responsible for Paying Restitution?

The responsibility for paying restitution usually falls on the convicted individual. In cases involving multiple defendants, the court may apportion the restitution amount, holding each defendant responsible for a specific percentage or jointly liable for the total amount.

Factors Affecting Restitution

Severity of the Crime

The severity of the crime plays a crucial role in determining the restitution amount. More severe crimes that result in significant harm or damage typically result in higher restitution amounts.

Victim’s Losses

The restitution amount is directly tied to the victim’s losses. Detailed documentation of medical bills, repair costs, and other financial losses will be used to calculate the final amount.

Defendant’s Financial Situation

While the primary focus is on compensating the victim, the court may also consider the defendant’s ability to pay when determining the restitution amount. However, this consideration does not typically reduce the amount owed but may influence the payment schedule.

Legal Process

Court’s Role

The court plays a central role in determining and enforcing restitution. During sentencing, the judge will review the evidence presented, including victim impact statements and financial documentation, to establish the restitution amount.

Probation Department’s Role

The probation department may also be involved in assessing the defendant’s financial situation and ensuring compliance with restitution orders. They may conduct investigations and provide recommendations to the court regarding the restitution amount and payment plan.

Enforcement of Restitution

Once the court issues a restitution order, it becomes a legally binding obligation. Failure to comply with the restitution order can result in additional legal consequences, including probation violations and further court actions.

Rights and Obligations

Defendant’s Rights

As a defendant, you have the right to challenge the restitution amount if you believe it is unjust or improperly calculated. You can request a restitution hearing where you can present evidence and arguments to dispute the proposed amount.

Defendant’s Obligations

Once the restitution amount is determined, you are legally obligated to make the payments as ordered by the court. The court may establish a payment plan based on your financial situation, but failure to adhere to this plan can lead to serious repercussions.

How a Wallin and Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Facing a criminal conviction and the potential obligation to pay restitution can be daunting. A skilled criminal defense attorney can assist in several ways:

  • Negotiating Restitution Amounts: Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf to ensure the restitution amount is fair and accurately reflects your financial situation.
  • Challenging Excessive Claims: If the victim’s claim seems exaggerated or unsupported by evidence, your attorney can challenge these claims in court.
  • Navigating Legal Procedures: Restitution proceedings can be complex. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected at every step.
  • Developing Payment Plans: Your attorney can help negotiate a manageable payment plan that takes your financial circumstances into account.

Our law firm has been successfully representing thousands of clients. Call us for a free consultation to see if we can help you at 877-466-5245. We will be there when you call. We have offices in Irvine, Pasadena, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Torrance, Victorville, West Covina, and Anaheim. Call us for a free consultation at 877-466-5245.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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