The California Constitution provides that “full restitution is mandatory in every case where there is a victim who incurred economic losses as result of the commission of a crime of which the defendant was convicted”.
In Orange County, when a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor crime where economic loss has occurred, restitution will be ordered as a condition of informal probation. CSP is contracted by the County to provide direct assistance to crime victims in obtaining court ordered restitution from offenders. As a part of the sentence, the defendant is ordered to report immediately, or within 72 hours of being released, to the CSP Victim Assistance Program office. The defendant is advised of his or her obligations in regard to restitution.
If the victim has not previously been identified, restitution staff will review the DA file and police reports associated with the case to identify and contact potential victims. If it is deemed that you are owed restitution on a case handled by CSP, the Restitution Specialist will contact you via mail or phone. You will be required to submit forms which will help the Restitution Specialist to determine and verify the amount of restitution owed. Once a restitution amount is determined and verified the Restitution Specialist will establish a payment plan for the defendant. it is the obligation of the defendant to make payments through the CSP Restitution program. Those payments are then distributed to the victim.
When an adult or juvenile is placed on formal probation and is ordered by the court to pay restitution, the responsibility for collecting restitution falls to the probation department. By law, restitution amounts in adult and juvenile cases are determined by the Probation Department with concurrence by the Court and defendant. In addition, each probationer must be assessed for their ability to pay, with monthly payments set accordingly.
CSP Victim Advocates are also well trained regarding restitution. A Victim Advocate can assist crime victims in obtaining the needed documentation and presenting it to the Deputy District Attorney handling their case. Restitution Specialists and Victim Advocates will help you complete the necessary forms to insure that you have every opportunity to collect your restitution; to make you as financially whole as possible.
Common Losses Eligible Under California Restitution Law:
- Medical expenses
- Wages or profits lost due to injury
- Replacement value of stolen or damaged property
- Cost of installing security devices
- Retrofitting of residence or vehicle if required due to injuries sustained in the crime
- Mental health counseling expenses
- Attorney fees for loss recovery
- Repairs to damaged items
- Interest at 10% per annum
- Other losses demonstrated to be directly related to the crime
Restitution to the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP)
If a victim has been reimbursed for losses or expenses have been paid through a claim to CalVCP (see Victim Compensation Program), the court will order the defendant to pay restitution directly to CalVCP to fully reimburse the Restitution Fund. In this circumstance there may or may not be additional restitution owed directly to the victim.
Defendant’s Right to Contest the Restitution Amount
Defendants have the right to request a hearing to contest the amount of restitution as determined by the Court or the Probation Department. If the recommended restitution amount is contested, victims have the right to be present at that hearing and offer testimony as to why the recommended amounts are accurate. CSP staff will be available to provide support to the victim during this process. Based on information presented during the hearing, the Court will make the final determination of the restitution amount.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) collects restitution for victims who have been named in court orders as being entitled to restitution paid by the criminal who committed the crime. Frequently, information about the victim is not available and CDCR does not know where to send the money collected. State law provides that victims can come forward at anytime to claim restitution collected on their behalf. If you believe that you were the victim in a case where the defendant was sent to a CDCR facility and a court order for Restitution was issued, CDCR may have collected restitution due to you. Please visit the Victim Restitution page of the CDCR website for additional information.