If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, and subsequently convicted of that offense, you may be ordered to pay restitution as part of your sentence imposed by the judge. If you have never been convicted of a crime before your first question may be “What is restitution?” Because most restitution orders then become part of a defendant’s special conditions of probation it is very important for you to understand what restitution is to avoid a probation violation.
Although some criminal offenses are referred to as “victimless crimes,” others directly involve a victim. For a victim, seeing the perpetrator of the crime convicted and sentenced may provide emotional closure; however, that conviction and sentence do nothing to help cover the actual costs incurred by the victim as a result of the crime. That is where restitution comes in as a sentencing option. Restitution, therefore, is simply the legal name for the money a court orders a defendant to pay to a victim to cover actual expenses related to the crime. Some common examples of the types of cases where restitution is ordered include:
· DUI involving a collision – the defendant might be ordered to pay for the property damage to the other vehicle and/or medical bills of an injured victim.
· Domestic violence – a defendant might be ordered to pay hospital bills, costs for damages property, even counseling costs
· Assault and battery — medical bills incurred by the victim might be part of a restitution order.
· Theft – the cost of the items stolen and/or the cost of repairing any damaged property might be paid through restitution.
Although restitution is usually related to a conviction, Nebraska law does allow restitution to be ordered without a conviction. For example, the prosecuting attorney might agree to drop shoplifting charges against you in return for you paying restitution to the victim.
When restitution is made a special condition of probation it means you will pay your court ordered restitution while on probation. Failing to pay the entire amount of restitution ordered by the court could be the basis for a probation violation being filed against you. The worst thing you can do if you are financially unable to pay your restitution is to do nothing. Talk to your probation officer first and see if payment arrangements can be worked out. If that doesn’t work, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney who may be able to get you back in to see the judge to discuss the matter. At the very least this shows that you are trying to abide by the court’s order.
If you have any additional questions regarding restitution, or you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska, contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.