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Criminal Restitution in Michigan


Restitution is a mandatory component of a criminal conviction in Michigan in which the victim of the crime has an economic loss. The process is controlled by Michigan laws, Michigan Court Rules, and by the many court cases that interpret them. One important controlling law is Michigan’s Crime Victims Rights Act.


Michigan has mandatory full restitution in qualifying cases. As Michigan criminal defense attorneys, we have observed over the years that people sometimes attempt to take advantage of this fact by making claims that exceed their real out of pocket expenses attributable to the criminal activity or by claiming economic damages for anticipated services, such as counseling, which have no connection to the crime charged.


A common practice for judges in Michigan is to order restitution to be determined by the probation department. This means that the probation agent is charged with the responsibility of gathering the appropriate information and making a calculation as to the proper amount.


Restitution is sometimes determined by the cost of damages

As with civil litigation, a common issue is the method of calculating the amount of damages. As an example, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently set aside a restitution award where the trial court ordered the cost of repair for a damaged vehicle.


Another context in which this can be a significant issue is a case where personal property is destroyed by vandalism or some other property crime that involves stolen personal items that are unrecoverable. In those circumstances, claims are often presented for replacement cost. Crime victims or insurance companies replace the used items with new items and present their purchase receipts.


Restitution can include medical bills for injuries

In cases involving serious injuries or death, there can be claims for restitution for the full amount of the medical bills. Sometimes defendants are caught off guard because they plead to a lesser crime without considering the fact that a court may order a huge amount of restitution, even in a case reduced to a misdemeanor. In many cases in Michigan, the victims themselves have already been fairly compensated by their own insurance companies.


In this case, the insurance company can seek reimbursement directly from the defendant. Even when no such claim is made in the criminal case, a criminal defendant may still be facing a civil lawsuit for the collection of damages. Although civil liability for criminal activity is a large subject and beyond the scope of this article, this issues should always be discussed with your criminal defense attorney.


Restitution amounts in Michigan sentences can be contested

In all cases where restitution is an issue, the defendant is entitled to a contested hearing to determine the correct amount. A competent criminal defense lawyer will know how to challenge an overstated claim for restitution. At The Kronzek Firm we have held many such hearings and have saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars by doing so. The best time to consult with an expert attorney is before you go to trial or accept a plea arrangement, but as a general rule, restitution awards can be challenged after a conviction.


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More information on Criminal Restitution in Michigan

  • What Does it Mean When The Court Orders me to Pay Restitution?
      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 […]
  • Michigan Criminal Law – This is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
    This week, April 22nd through April 28th, is National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Each year, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)—part of the United States Department of Justice—leads local communities in programming to promote victims’ rights. As criminal defense lawyers, we are involved in the criminal justice system on a daily basis. We do […]
  • Michigan Restitution Sentencing – Michigan Court of Appeals Clarifies Calculation of Criminal Restitution
    “Restitution” is when a defendant has to pay money to an individual to compensate the individual’s economic losses. In Michigan, restitution is mandatory in a criminal case when the victim has suffered an economic loss. For example, the criminal defendant who commits a theft of the victim’s property will have to pay the victim money […]
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