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Florida Criminal Restitution Matters

Florida Criminal Restitution Matters - Miami Trial Attorney

Throughout the United States, all courts outline circumstances in which the victim of a crime can receive restitution from the person who committed the crime. Usually, this is as simple as the perpetrator of the crime paying money to the victim to make them whole.

As the Florida court system continues to search for more progressive and creative punishments, restitution has become an increasingly popular choice for judges. Unfortunately for those ordered to pay restitution, this could mean years of payments and wage garnishments. Courts often fail to fully consider the financial strains on the defendant stemming from a restitution order.

Miami and South Florida residents should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in restitution matters to ensure the court hears and considers their interests.

When is Restitution Awarded?

Under Florida Law, the court will order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim for:

  1. Any damages or losses directly or indirectly caused by the defendant during the commission of their offense; and
  2. Any damages or losses relating to the defendant's crime.

Remember, restitution is ordered in addition to any other punishment stemming from the commission of the defendant's crime.

The statute goes further, granting courts broad discretion in awarding restitution, where "it finds clear and compelling reasons not to order such restitution." What constitutes a clear and compelling reason is unclear in the statute, but past courts have considered: wealth disparities between victim and defendant, the defendant's ability to pay, and the financial difficulty placed on the victim as a result of the defendant's actions.

This broadly drawn statutory language inevitably leads to courts hearing arguments over whether restitution is appropriate. This is where the bulk of a criminal defense attorney's work takes place, arguing for reduced restitution on your behalf.

What Losses are Covered by Restitution?

The goal of restitution is to put the victim in the same position as they would have been, had the defendant's crime not occurred. In other words, restitution can be awarded whenever the victim is financially harmed due to the defendant's actions. Damages that may be included in the restitution amount include:

  • Lost wages - In the event the victim is unable to work as a result of the defendant's crime.
  • Medical expenses - If the victim is sent to the hospital as a result of the defendant's crime.
  • Damaged or stolen property - The defendant may be ordered to pay for any property they stole, lost, or damaged during the commission of their crime.
  • Funeral expenses - If the victim or anyone else is killed as a result of the defendant's actions.

Florida courts will generally consider the above expenses, as well as any expenses the victim incurs, directly or indirectly caused by the defendant's crime.

Convicted of a Crime and Facing Restitution?

If you have been convicted of a crime in Miami or South Florida, restitution payments act as a cloud of uncertainty plaguing your financial future. A criminal trial attorney with experience in restitution cases will ensure your interests are asserted and could result in a significant economic benefit going into the future. Contact a Miami criminal attorney specializing in restitution immediately to ensure your case receives the best possible outcome.

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