restitution | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

Restitution refers to money paid to the victim of a crime as part of a criminal sanction.

Restitution is a type of criminal sanction that is designed to provide monetary compensation to victims of crimes. It is an important aspect of the criminal justice system, as it provides a means of holding offenders accountable for the harm they have caused to others. Restitution may be ordered by a court as part of a sentence, or it may be agreed upon as part of a plea bargain.

Restitution can take many forms, including payment for property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. It can also include payment for intangible harms, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. The amount of restitution is typically based on the actual losses suffered by the victim, as well as any future losses that are reasonably foreseeable.

The goal of restitution is to provide a tangible benefit to the victim, as well as to promote accountability on the part of the offender. By requiring offenders to pay restitution, courts are sending a message that criminal behavior will not be tolerated and that offenders will be held responsible for the harm they have caused. Restitution can also help to deter future criminal behavior by demonstrating the consequences of criminal acts.

In order to ensure that it is paid, the court may order that the offender’s wages or assets be garnished. The court may also order that the offender’s probation or parole be extended until restitution has been paid in full. If an offender fails to make restitution payments, they may be subject to additional penalties, including fines, additional probation or parole time, and even incarceration.

The process of determining the amount of restitution can be complex, as it requires a careful analysis of the victim’s losses. In some cases, the court may order a presentence investigation or a victim impact statement to help determine the appropriate amount. The offender may also be given an opportunity to contest the amount of restitution, either through a hearing or by submitting evidence to the court.

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Last Modified: 04/07/2023


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