Restitution. If you don’t know what it means, it can be a confusing word, whose pronunciation gives no clue as to what it implies. For those of you who aren’t certain of the legal definition here in Michigan, restitution is what a defendant sometimes has to pay to compensate a victim for the economic losses they suffered as a result of the crime.
Restitution is mandatory in many criminal cases in Michigan.
In other words, if you commit a crime that causes someone else to lose money, restitution is how you pay them back. In Michigan, restitution is mandatory in all criminal cases where the victim suffers an economic loss. For example, if you steal money from someone’s car, you will be required by the court to pay them back the amount that you stole.
Another example would be items for sale that are shoplifted. If you steal items from a store owner that they were going to sell in their store, you would be required to pay restitution by paying them back for the revenue they lost. This also applies to damaged or vandalized property. If you destroyed property, you would be required to repay its value to the owner.
How does the court figure out what I owe?
The catch in many cases, is how restitution is calculated. According to Michigan law, the amount should be based on the value of the property stolen or damaged by the defendant. So what does that mean? Well, Michigan courts have determined that this means the fair market value of the property, or in other words, “what a ready, willing and able buyer would pay for the property on the open market.”
But what if the alleged victim is lying about the value of their property? What happens when someone tells the police that you stole more than you did, or claims that the value of their damaged property is higher than it really is? The truth is, this happens quite often in Michigan courtrooms. Alleged victims try to capitalize on the opportunity to get something for nothing. This is why a skilled defense attorney is so important – we fight to stop these lies and help you avoid paying anything more than what you owe!
Restitution can also mean paying medical bills.
If your crime caused someone else serious harm, and they were hospitalized as a result, you may be required to pay for their medical bills. If your crime caused someone’s death, that too could result in restitution payments. This can be a very complicated aspect of the criminal justice system.
In many cases, the victims are fairly compensated by their insurance companies, and don’t require restitution. This can seem unfair to defendants who are sometimes ordered to pay restitution nonetheless. There are also times when insurance companies will pay the victims, and then seek reimbursement directly from the defendant. This is complicated subject, and if you have questions about how insurance companies get involved, we recommend you speak to your criminal defense attorney.
Restitution can affect your plea agreement!
Believe it or not, restitution can even affect things like your plea agreement. Many defendants in Michigan agree to a plea agreement without considering how it could affect possible restitution. They plead to a lesser crime assuming the court will order a smaller payment, and then the judge orders a huge amount instead, even when the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor!
The only way to assure that you’re not taken advantage of, and that you pay only what you owe and nothing more, is to have a highly experiencled defense attorney on your side. That way, if your restitution is inflated, or the victim has made an inflated claim for restitution, your attorney can contest it for you! Call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 to discuss your case with tough criminal defense attorneys. We’ve saved our clients thousands over the years, and we can help you too!