When charged with a crime, those accused often think about the penalties he or she might have to endure if a conviction results. This typically comes in the form of jail time and fines. For some crimes, such as white collar crimes, the victims harmed by the supposed crime could be owed restitution. Thus, offenders convicted of a crime may have to pay a certain amount of money in order to make a victim whole again.
When convicted of a crime, the judge determines what criminal consequences a defendant will face. When evidence indicates that the victim of a crime suffered some form of financial setback, restitution might be ordered as a means to restore a victim financially to the point where he or she was prior to the commission of the crime.
Restitution is typically ordered as a condition of another sentence, such as incarceration or probation. However, restitution could be a sentence on its own, serving as an alternative sentence. Both state and federal statutes outline who is able to receive restitution and the amount judges can have defendants pay.
It should be noted that restitution is different from being ordered to pay a fine. A fine is punitive and is paid to the government. On the other hand, restitution is paid to a victim of the crime at hand as a means to compensate the victim for any injuries suffered by the crime. Although the government could be a victim of a crime, a fine is not intended to compensate the government for its injuries. A fine is used merely to punish an offender. Thus, it is possible to be ordered to pay restitution to the government as well as being ordered to pay a fine.
The penalties and consequences of a crime could be much more than one expects. Therefore, it is vital to understand what defense options one might have. This not only helps one protect his or her rights but could also help to reduce or avoid criminal consequences.