Restitution is a court-ordered payment by the perpetrator of a crime to the victims, in addition to a jail sentence, fine and any other penalty. Restitution is not meant to be punitive. Its purpose is to restore the victims financially, as much as possible, to where they were before the crime occurred.
Restitution payments are most common in cases involving theft or other wrongful diversion of property from its rightful owner. However, they can compensate for many other types of financial losses. For example, if a burglary resulted in injury to an occupant of the home, the convicted person may be ordered to pay medical bills, rehabilitation costs and lost wages. If property is damaged from the commission of a crime, the convicted person may be ordered to pay for repairs.
Most of the time, restitution is ordered in addition to a criminal sentence, such as prison time or probation, but it may also be ordered as an alternative to sentencing for less-serious crimes or misdemeanors. This option, which benefits both the defendant and the victim, can often be used in plea bargaining by a skillful criminal defense attorney. Restitution amounts are calculated by the prosecution. Usually, the prosecution and the defense attorney will meet and agree on a restitution amount for approval by the judge.
In Florida, there is usually a time limit of five years in which the restitution must be paid, either in installments or in a lump sum. The five-year payment period may begin at the end of the convicted person’s imprisonment, the date of sentencing or at the end of probation. Restitution payments are made to the Florida Crimes Compensation Trust Fund and distributed to victims.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Florida, the attorneys at Largey Law are here to help. We are experienced in navigating the Florida criminal justice system and building strong defenses. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact us online. We have offices in Tavares, Clermont and Inverness.