What is Restitution and What Happens if I Don’t Pay It? How Does Restitution Impact My Case?

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, restitution is defined as the return or restoration of some specific thing to its rightful owner or status; compensation for benefits derived from a wrong done to another; and also compensation or reparation for the loss caused to another.

In the criminal context, the purpose of restitution is compensate or repay a crime victim for monetary loss due to a crime and is court-ordered by a judge. Typically, it is limited to payments for damages or losses directly caused by a crime but it will not include intangible things such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Whenever a court orders a defendant to pay restitution, any money the court clerk collects is used to first pay restitution before being used to pay any fines or court costs.

Specifically, Virginia Code Section 19.2-305.1 allows for the imposition of restitution in criminal cases such as costs for property damage and repair, insurance deductibles, costs of stolen goods, medical bills, and funeral expenses. The statute also allows for a judge to order a person to complete community service. In addition, if the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund makes any payments to the family of a deceased victim, the court will order a criminal defendant to repay such amount back to the Fund.

Perhaps most important to note, the “unreasonable failure to execute the [restitution] plan by the defendant shall result in revocation of the probation or imposition of the suspended sentence.” In layperson’s terms, this means that if a person who was ordered by the court to pay restitution does not pay it, he or she will face a probation violation in court and also face the possibility of serving the remainder of a previously suspended jail or prison sentence.

Prior to entering into any restitution payment agreement with the court, you are best served to consult an experienced Norfolk criminal defense attorney who handles shoplifting and larceny offenses in the Hampton Roads area to ensure that you are not ordered to pay unnecessary restitution or fees.