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Victim Restitution

Domestic Violence Victim Restitution in California 

If convicted of a domestic violence offense in a Los Angeles County criminal court, you might be facing additional punishment rather than just probation or some time in a county jail. In most cases, there are fines and fees that will have to be paid that are directly connected with probation. If you fail to pay these court-ordered costs, it could lead to severe penalties.

It also possible that the court will order you to pay victim restitution that is defined under Penal Code 1203.097 PC. These victim restitution payments are a mandatory requirement of your domestic violence probation.

Restitution is a form of compensation for losses suffered by a victim due to your conduct. There are certain domestic violence cases where the court might order you to pay victim restitution as a condition of probation. It should be noted a victim is entitled to receive out of pocket expenses incurred because of your behavior.

The restitution ordered by the court can partially or fully compensate a victim. It could cover direct losses, like property damages, or even the cost of a victim being forced to leave their home due to your conduct.

Also, restitution payments that are ordered could cover cost of medical treatment or counseling. Common restitution payments are loss of income, cost of temporary housing to keep victim safe, and medical treatment cost, such as the hospital emergency room.

It should be noted that total restitution cost can be substantial, but you might be able to get some relief based on ability to pay. In most case, a criminal court judge will consider your earning capacity and total assets in order to make a final decision on your ability to pay.

However, in such cases, you will be responsible for proving to the court that you are financially unable to make restitution payments at the hearing. It would be in your best interest to consult with a our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers for advice on having to pay victim restitution.

Victim Restitution and Prosecutor

It is the responsibility of the prosecutor who is dealing with the domestic violence case to pursue victim restitution. Once you are convicted, or in a case where the prosecutor has strong evidence, they will normally attempt to work out some type of deal where you will agree to pay restitution as part of the terms of probation.

After victim restitution is requested, the judge will then set a later court date after you are sentenced to address the restitution claim. The victim will give the prosecutor their request for restitution, who in turn, will provide this information to your criminal defense attorney.

In should be noted there are some cases where your insurance policy might cover restitution. You are allowed to challenge the restitution amount set by the judge.

Restitution Hearing

If you are not in agreement with the amount of requested restitution requested, you can ask for a hearing. The victim will have to give testimony about the damages and also give documentation on the damages. Your defense lawyer can cross-examine victim and also present evidence on your behalf. The prosecutor will also question the victim on the witness stand, and the judge might also ask them some questions.

The prosecutor will present evidence and make their arguments on the amount of restitution based on the all the details. Next, your lawyer will also present evidence and make arguments before the judge on the amount of restitution they believe to be a fair amount.

The judge will consider all evidence and them make a decision on the amount of restitution and then you to pay that amount to the victim.

As stated, restitution is designed to pay the victim's out-of-pocket expenses based on what actions you took against them, but it's often very much in favor of the victim. It's difficult to challenge the amount of victim restitution that was order in a domestic violence case.

In most cases, the best outcome is achieved through negotiation between your lawyer and the prosecutor.  However, it's the judge who makes the final decision.

Payment of Victim Restitution and Probation

The payments of victim restitution in a domestic violence case will be a mandatory condition of your probation. If you are financially unable to pay the full amount the victim requested, the judge will usually make an order that you make monthly payments.

In some cases, the judge might schedule an ability to pay hearing which will give you a chance to show documentation about your financial status. This will give the judge important information in order to decide the exact amount of monthly payments you are to pay to the victim.

If you have not been able to pay the full amount of restitution by the end of your probation period, the judge will probably extend the period of your probation, or they might even decide to convert the amount to a civil judgement.

If the court decides that you willfully failed to pay victim restitution, the judge could impose a probation violation and give you additional penalties. If the court decides that your failure to pay victim restitution was not willful based on the fact you are not in a financial position to maintain the payments, it will not typically result in a probation violation.

Other Costs Associated with a Domestic Violence Conviction

In addition to paying victim restitution described above, the court will also typically order you to pay a $500 fee that will be sent to help with cost of Los Angeles County domestic violence programs. You could also have to make payments to a battered women's shelter, which could be as high as $5,000.

There is also the cost of a 52-week batterers' intervention program. As stated, these cost can be negotiated into a payment plan that will be based on your ability to pay. There is also cost for your probation.

Victim restitution payments are considered a higher priority than making payments to a battered women's shelter. If payments to a woman's shelter prevent you from making restitution payments to the victim, the judge has the discretion to allow you to not make payments to the woman's shelter.

It should be noted that in a domestic cases where the victim is your spouse, the court will normally prohibit you from using community funds to make victim restitution payments. In other words, the payments must be made from your own money.

Contact our Law Firm for Help

If you were charged with a domestic violence related crimes, call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to examine the details on the case and legal options moving forward.

If convicted, there are typically harsh consequences in addition to the substantial fees and other related cost the court could order you to pay.

Our attorneys can help you navigate the court process which could give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.  As stated, victim restitution is condition of probation. This means they must be paid or you could face a probation violation and jail time.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with highly experienced lawyers that have a record of success. We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Call us for a free case consultation at 424-372-3112.

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