In many cases, after a person is convicted of a crime in federal court, he or she will be ordered by the judge to financially compensate any victims who suffered as a result of the offense. These orders, which are known as orders of restitution, don’t expire until they have been completely paid off, and usually cannot even be discharged after filing for bankruptcy, so it is important for those who have been accused of a federal crime to have a thorough understanding of the consequences of conviction, which could include an order of restitution. For an explanation of your own rights and obligations under federal law after being convicted of a crime, please contact an experienced federal crime attorney who can assist you.
Amount of Restitution Payments
Before restitution is actually ordered by a court, a probation officer assigned to the case will usually conduct an investigation into the defendant’s ability to pay restitution by assessing that individual’s current income and net worth, as well as whether such an order would be appropriate in a particular case. If the Probation Office deems restitution appropriate, it will suggest a specific amount, which will then be subject to a district court judge’s approval.
Timing of Payments
When a person is ordered to pay restitution, the sentence handed down by the court will include language about that individual’s responsibility to make restitution payments during his or her supervised release. This includes how much the payments must be, when the payments are due, and how they must be paid.
As previously mentioned, restitution orders don’t expire until all payments have been made. This is true even if the defendant passes away, as his or her estate could be required to pay off the remaining balance owed. Fortunately, it is possible for defendants to seek a reduction of the amount that they owe.
Modifying Restitution Payments
When a defendant has been convicted of a crime, but is on supervised release, he or she has the option of asking the court to modify any restitution orders. This is because the federal district court retains jurisdiction of a case even while a person is on supervised release.
Once he or she is no longer on supervised release, however, the restitution order can still be enforced as a civil judgment and will be collected by the Financial Litigation Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, although the victim will bear the responsibility of enforcement. Defendants who are unable or unwilling to pay restitution may have their wages or bank accounts garnished by the government, which also has the option of seizing and selling a person’s assets to cover the remaining amount.
Once the debt becomes a civil judgement, the defendant has the option of attempting to reach a settlement agreement with the victim. However, it’s important for defendants to keep any terms of their release in mind during these negotiations, which could mean that they are not allowed to directly contact the victim. Instead, defendants should have their lawyers contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Probation Office to see if the victim would agree to accept a lower amount. In the event that both parties agree to a new settlement, the court will be permitted to change the original order.
Contact Our Federal Crime Legal Team Today
To speak with an experienced federal crime attorney about your own order of restitution, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. in Miami at 305-670-9919 today. Initial consultations are offered free of charge.