Restitution in criminal cases provides a more practical and convenient mechanism for compensating crime victims than does recourse to the civil courts.
Elements in the criminal justice system which provide restitution include compromise and settlement programs; civil remedies in criminal codes, such as damages and court costs; public compensation; and restitution imposed to avoid conviction. Substantive and procedural constraints exist on the use of restitution. The decision to impose restitution must consider the defendant's ability to pay and other demands on his or her resources. Fixing the amount and conditions of restitution in a criminal justice setting generally occurs with considerably less formality than in a civil tribunal. Summary procedures placing the burden on the defendant to contest the restitution order appear most common. Sentencing judges tend to rely on recommendations of presentence investigators or staff from special restitution programs rather than probation officers. While the scope of restitution in criminal courts seems to be expanding, procedural mechanisms offering protection to the defendant have not developed in a corresponding manner. The article includes 417 footnotes. (Author summary modified)
Date Published: January 1, 1982