What is Criminal Restitution? What Happens if You Don’t Pay?
Let’s say you were accused of breaking a store window. You were charged and found guilty. As the judge hands down the sentence, he orders that criminal restitution must be made to the store orders. But, what does that mean? And what can happen if you fail to pay?
What is Restitution?
Restitution is when the defendant of a crime must pay the victim who had suffered a financial setback because of the crime. The purpose of these payments is to restore the victims financially to the time before the crime was committed. Typically, a judge will order restitution as part of the defendant’s sentencing. Restitution will only pay for economic losses such as loss of wages, property damage, and medical expenses (a victim can take civil action against the defendant to recoup noneconomic damages).
Don’t confuse restitution as fines — they are two separate things. Fines are paid to the government as a part of your punishment whereas restitution is paid directly to the victim. A fine is considered to be a punishment; restitution is considered compensation.
How Criminal Restitution is Collected
It’s very unlikely that a defendant will be able to pay the restitution in a lump sum. That’s why when the judge orders criminal restitution, a payment plan may be established to help the defendant pay off the debt. The money will be sent to New Jersey’s probation division, which will then send the amount to the victim. It could take months, even years for the amount to be paid.
But what if the defendant fails to pay the court-ordered restitution? What can happen next? For example, let’s say you are out on probation yet have to pay restitution. You lose your job and don’t have the funds to pay. So you let a few payments go by. Now what?If this is the case, then you can say goodbye to probation. This is considered a violation of a court order. You will be arrested, be convicted of contempt of court, and face fines or even jail time. If you are out on probation, it can be revoked and you will be facing a prison sentence.
If this is the case, then you can say goodbye to probation. This is considered a violation of a court order. You will be arrested, be convicted of contempt of court, and face fines or even jail time. If you are out on probation, it can be revoked and you will be facing a prison sentence.
What You Should Do If You Can’t Pay
But, you can avoid the situation by discussing your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will discuss the situation with the court. Although it is unlikely your payments will be revoked, a new plan may be drawn up to help you with your obligations.
If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, we’re ready to take on your case. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.