In Florida, certain criminal defendants are ordered by the court to pay what’s called “restitution” to the victims of their crimes. Under Section 775.089 of the Florida Statutes, the court can order that an offender make restitution to their victim(s) for damage or loss caused by the offender’s criminal episode, or indirectly caused by the offense.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, restitution is “payment by an offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender’s wrongful acts. Courts have the authority to order convicted offenders to pay restitution to victims as part of their sentences.” Often, restitution is ordered in violent felony cases, such as aggravated assault and sexual assault, and in those involving homicide.
Restitution can cover the following losses suffered by the victim:
- Medical expenses
- Prescription drug costs
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy
- Counseling or therapy costs
- Property damage or loss
- Crime scene cleanup costs
- Insurance co-pays and deductibles
- The victim’s lost income
- In the case of a fatality, the victim’s funeral expenses
Restitution is not the same as a civil or personal injury lawsuit. Meaning, it does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. However, even if an offender is ordered to pay restitution, it does not bar the victim from filing a civil lawsuit against the offender.
If a victim does opt to sue the offender, he or she would pursue non-economic damages, and damages not covered in the restitution order. In other words, a crime victim cannot collect twice for the same loss.
How is Restitution Collected?
Sometimes, restitution is a part of the offender’s probation or parole. In this case, the offender’s probation or parole officer will oversee the payments. If the offender is close to being released from probation or parole and they have fallen behind on their restitution payments, it won’t reflect well on their record and can impact their proceedings.
In Florida, if a defendant is placed on probation or paroled, one of the conditions of their probation or parole shall be complete satisfaction of the restitution. If the offender fails to pay the full restitution as ordered, the probation or parole can be revoked.