What To Know About Restitution In Texas
Sentencing in a criminal case is not only about potential jail time. It also involves terms of probation, fees and costs, and restitution to a crime victim in many cases. Restitution is a court ordered requirement that addresses a victim’s losses due to an incident. Restitution seeks to restore victims to a position they were in before the crime occurred. Article I, Section 30 of the Texas Constitution gives crime victims the right to request restitution as part of a judgment in their case.
Restitution can be used to cover a wide variety of expenses and costs associated with a crime, such as:
- Property damage;
- Value of stolen items or money;
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income and lost future income;
- Funeral expenses;
- Costs of rehabilitation and therapy;
- Lost business revenue;
- Cost to replace business property (such as storefront windows or company vehicles).
Restitution can also include community service requirements and other non-monetary remedies.
The Texas statute addressing restitution provides that restitution is not automatically granted in all cases, but is available by request and is dependent on the facts of the case. At a restitution hearing, the prosecution can present arguments on behalf of the victim that certain types and amounts of restitution are warranted. Some of these items are fairly straightforward, such as medical bills or an amount of money known to be stolen.
Other restitution items can be more speculative and subject to dispute. An alleged loss of future business income or lost future wages due to a defendant’s act may or may not be supported by the facts. Prosecutors will fight for higher amounts, while a defendant may correctly argue those amounts are unfair or not warranted by the circumstances of the case.
It is important to remember that in criminal cases, restitution amounts can be awarded without regard for a defendant’s ability to pay. Restitution creates a burdensome financial obligation to the defendant, and can lead to liens and seizures of a defendant’s property if they do not make voluntary payments. Additionally, restitution and fines related to a criminal conviction are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Therefore, it is critical for a criminal defendant to obtain skilled legal counsel to represent them at the restitution stage of a case. Even if a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty, they still have important issues to fight for at the sentencing and restitution stage of a case. Restitution can be determined after a court hearing or through plea negotiations between the prosecutor and defense attorney. Defendants must make sure they have an attorney at their side who is ready to challenge any issues related to restitution.
Our Pearland, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Will Stand With You Through Every Step of a Case, Including Sentencing and Restitution Hearings
In most cases, those charged with a crime will worry first and foremost about the possibility of jail time and court fines. Restitution to a victim is another issue that must be dealt with in many cases, and defendants need someone in their corner for this part of the case as well. At Keith B. French Law, our Pearland criminal lawyers will represent your interests to the fullest and fight for a restitution amount that is fair and reasonable, if restitution is necessary. To learn more about your legal rights and options in a criminal defense matter, contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC online or call 832-243-6153 today.