Restitution in Criminal Justice System means payment paid by the offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender’s wrongful acts. Restitution is the part of offender’s sentence, which is announced by the court. It covers any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime. Restitution includes:
- Medical expenses;
- Therapy costs,
- Prescription charges;
- Expenses related to participating in the criminal justice system (travel expenses, child care expenses, etc);
- Lost or damaged property;
- Other expenses directly related to the crime.
Restitution covers only expenses that can be easily proved by a bill or a receipt. It doesn’t cover such things as pain, emotional stress, etc. Victims can increase the likelihood that restitution will be ordered by collecting data stating their financial loss and requesting the court that restitution be ordered.
The difference between restitution and compensation is in that restitution is court-ordered payment from a convicted offender, while crime victim compensation is a state government program that pays many of out-of-pocket losses of crime victims even when there is no prosecution or arrest. All expenses covered by the compensation are set by the state law.
Both compensation and restitution cannot be paid to the crime victim at the same time for the same loss. If the compensation has already paid to the victim for some losses, the court may order the offender to reimburse the state compensation program. The court can also order the offender to pay the victim for the losses that haven’t been compensated by the state compensation program.
The amount of restitution to be paid to the crime victim depends on the victim’s loss and the offender’s ability to pay. Depending on these two factors, the court may order full or partial restitution. There can be even a set schedule for the offender to make payment.