THE RIGHT TO RESTITUTION
The term “restitution” generally refers to restoration of the harm caused by the defendant, most commonly in the form of payment for damages. It can also refer to the return or repair of property stolen or damaged in the course of the crime.
Courts have the authority to order restitution by convicted offenders as part of their sentences. In approximately one-third of states, courts are required to order restitution to victims in cases involving certain types of crimes, typically violent felony offenses. In many other states, if the court fails to order restitution, or orders restitution for only part of the victim’s losses, the court must state its reasons for doing so on the record. Payment of restitution is often a condition of probation or parole as well.
Not only can courts order restitution to the direct victim of a crime, they are often able to order restitution to the state victim compensation board, if that board has paid some of the victim’s expenses, or to a victim service agency that provided assistance to the victim.
Restitution can cover any out-of-pocket losses directly relating to the crime, including:
expenses related to participating in the criminal justice process (such as travel costs and child care expenses);
lost or damaged property;
insurance deductibles; and
other expenses that resulted directly from the crime.