What is Restitution?
Restitution means "paying back." A law dictionary defines restitution as an, "act of restoring; restoration; restoration of anything to its rightful owner; the act of making good or giving equivalent for any loss, damage or injury." The purpose of restitution fines or direct order of restitution is to help victims recover from any financial hardship caused due to your criminal activity. Restitution may cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and the cost of repairing damaged property.
Restitution is ordered by the court and is part of your sentence . The restitution order is read out loud in court along with the terms of confinement.
Types of Restitution
State law requires judges to order restitution in every criminal case. Your current ability to pay is NOT a consideration of the court.
There are two types of restitution: restitution fines and direct orders. Both types of restitution can be ordered in a single case.
Penal Code §1202.4 addresses restitution fines.
Restitution fines usually range from $200 to $10,000. The judge decides what you will pay.
Penal Code §1202.45 requires the court to order an additional parole revocation fine in the same amount as the original fine. This additional parole revocation fine is suspended until you violate parole. For example, the court may order you to pay a $200 restitution fine and IF you violate your conditions of parole you would owe $400
Direct orders are specifically for victim losses because of the crime(s) committed against them. It is possible for many victims to receive Direct orders on a case. Direct orders can be for any dollar amount. The Judge decides what you will pay.
The court will determine how much the victim(s) can receive based on the amount of their loss. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) collects the money and the Victims Compensation Fund assures that the victim receives it.
A direct order is considered a money judgment (civil) and may be collected as such (wage garnishments, liens, etc.) after a person is released from prison.
The CDCR garnishes 55 percent (50 percent goes towards the obligation and the remainder is an administration fee) of deposits made to your inmate trust account to pay restitution ordered by the court. The CDCR can also take 55 percent of prison wages you earn to collect court ordered restitution. Direct orders are collected first, then restitution fines are collected. It is your responsibility to keep track of how much money has been taken from you while at different institutions. If you make payments somewhere other than the institution, you must provide CDCR with a receipt as proof of payment.
Restitution does not stop when you parole.
If you parole or discharge and then receive a new prison term or parole violation, CDCR will continue to collect all unpaid restitution. You will need to determine how to pay your outstanding restitution balance. If it is not paid voluntarily, it will eventually be collected--possibly through a tax intercept.
Restitution has no statute of limitations. This means that there is no time limit for collection. It is an outstanding debt even after you are discharged from CDCR's jurisdiction.
Under Federal statutes, (11USC §523(a)(7) restitution is NOT discharged under bankruptcy.
If you wish to fulfill your parole term in another state you may not leave California until ALL restitution has been paid in full. If you plan to parole in another state, either you or your parole agent must contact the Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services to request an accurate balance. Your Trust Office printout is NOT used for this purpose. While you are on parole, all payments should be made with a money order or cashier's check and sent to:
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 276088
Sacramento, CA 95827
Your name and CDCR number must be included to accurately credit your balance. A receipt for all money received is faxed to your parole agent. Your restitution account must have a zero balance before transfer papers can be submitted to the Interstate Unit.