If you were convicted of a crime which involved injury to another person or damage to their property, the court will most likely order that restitution be paid as part of your sentence. This restitution order can be imposed whether the damage was directly or indirectly caused by you. The law states that the injury or damage, however, must occur “as a result of the offense” and this can become a point of contention in your case.
For example, let’s say you are involved in a very minor fender bender and are then arrested for DUI. There is no ambulance called to the scene, no tow truck, nothing. In fact, you even see the alleged victim drive away before you are arrested. However, when you come to court for your arraignment, you find out that the State has charged you with DUI involving property damage and personal injury. As a result, they are asking for restitution to be ordered in your case. After you hire your experienced Pasco County criminal defense attorney, you find out that a personal injury lawyer was hired but the insurance company refuses to settle the claim for the amount requested.
If you are convicted and placed on probation, can the judge order restitution even though this bogus personal injury claim is pending? The short answer is, yes. The judge can order restitution for the victim even with a pending personal injury claim. But, the victim of the crime cannot get a double recovery. So if he gets paid $10,000, he can’t get $10,000 in criminal court. But if he only gets $5,000, the State can ask for the other $5,000 to be paid as part of the sentence in your criminal case.
It’s important to know that you have the right to a hearing where you can challenge the amount of restitution being requested. The State has the burden of showing the amount of loss which might include medical costs, repair costs and even lost wages. What’s worse, the court can retain jurisdiction on the issue of restitution for up to five years – even on a misdemeanor. It is very important to contact an experienced Pasco County criminal defense attorney before you agree to any amount of restitution.