Restitution is money paid to crime victims to help repair the damage done. To help right a wrong. It’s money paid be an offender to a crime victim to compensate the victim for the damages incurred directly from the criminal act.
Texas prosecutors don’t always get to collect restitution from defendants but when they do, it makes crime victims very happy. Typically, we’ll see court-ordered restitution when a defendant damages or destroys someone else’s property, or commits a violent felony.
In Fort Bend County, for example, a crime victim received a $500 check in a criminal mischief case. In her case, the defendant was her ex-boyfriend and he had to pay her restitution after slashing her tires as a part of his plea deal. The $500 check was more than she earned in a week and she was able to put it toward her loan for new tires.
In the court’s view, restitution helps because:
- It makes crime victims feel more whole.
- It helps deter criminal behavior by forcing defendants to take financial responsibility for their crimes.
- It helps defendants recognize the costs associated with their criminal behavior.
What You Need to Know About Restitution
In Texas, a court can order restitution whenever the offender has caused property damage or loss or personal injury. Restitution covers economic damages suffered by the crime victim, such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Counseling or therapy costs
- Property damage
- Property loss
- Insurance co-pays and deductibles
- Crime scene cleanup costs
- Funeral-related expenses
In addition to the above, the Code of Criminal Procedure allows the criminal courts to order a defendant to reimburse other entities that have made payments to crime victims. Such third parties include hospitals and insurance companies. The courts can also order defendants to pay money to the Crime Victim’s Compensation (CVC) fund.
In Texas, restitution can be ordered in any criminal case that involves probation, jail or prison. The most effective restitution orders are part of the court’s judgement. Even if the defendant can’t pay while they’re sitting in a jail cell, it can still be ordered. Theoretically, once it is ordered, it can haunt the defendant indefinitely.
Related: Will You Get Community Supervision?
Will restitution be ordered in your case? To schedule a free case evaluation with a Forth Worth criminal defense lawyer, contact my firm today!