When most people think of the penalties a judge may impose when sentencing a defendant in a criminal case, they often consider prison time or probation. They don’t generally figure in restitution, which judges commonly impose as well.
Restitution is a monetary amount that a judge may order a defendant to pay when their alleged victims have suffered some sort of financial distress or loss due to the offense that took place. A judge’s objective in imposing restitution is to restore the victim to the financial situation they were in before an alleged crime occurred.
Fines and restitution are not the same. Fines are paid to the government – not to the victim.
Does restitution replace incarceration?
Judges can order defendants to make restitution payments instead of imposing a jail or prison sentence or probation upon a defendant. Federal and state guidelines dictate when judges can impose restitution and how much defendants may have to pay.
Defendants may have to pay restitution in addition to serving a prison sentence. In some cases, the court may decide to garnish as much as 50% of an inmate’s wages that they earn while incarcerated as restitution. The court may also garnish a percentage of a defendant’s wages once they’re out on parole or probation or order them to make monthly payments.
If you’re facing white collar criminal charges, you hope for an acquittal. However, you need to prepare yourself for what can happen if you are convicted. You may be ordered to pay restitution to those who have lost money. That’s just one reason that experienced legal guidance is essential.