Restitution in California criminal cases is governed by Penal Code section 1202.4. That section of the code allows a victim of a crime to recover his/her “economic losses” which he/she suffered as a result of the crime. “Economic losses” are normally determined with the use of bills, receipts, repair estimates, payroll stubs, business records and medical expenses. “Economic losses” do not include pain, mental suffering and emotional distress.
Having a court issue a restitution order is an important tool for a victim for a number of reasons:
- Defendant’s inability to pay restitution to the victim will not be considered by the court
- Whatever money a victim received from his/her own insurance cannot be considered by the court when determining the restitution amount. In other words, a victims can “double-dip”
- The restitution order can be enforced as civil judgment
- The money awarded cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court
- The California Franchise Tax Board may garnish a defendant’s bank account & income tax refund