Handcuff, Book and Gavel on table

What You Need to Know About Restitution

Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC March 22, 2023

If you have pled guilty to a crime or have been convicted of one in Colorado, you might be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. For example, if you injured someone in an assault, you may be ordered to pay that person’s medical expenses or compensate them for lost wages. If you’ve stolen something and then sold it off, you can be ordered to repay the victim for the loss. Restitution may not be the only penalty, of course. You can also face jail time, fines, and probation. 

There is no “escape clause” for paying restitution. You must repay the victim no matter how long it takes, and you cannot wipe out the obligation through bankruptcy. Even if you spend 20 years in prison with no income, once you get out, the restitution order will still apply to you. If you get a job, you will have to turn over your paycheck to the court, which will take a percentage to make payments to the victim. In addition, your restitution bill is subject to 8% interest each year it is unpaid. 

If you are facing a criminal charge that may result in an order of restitution in or around Castle Rock, Colorado, contact the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC. With more than 30 years’ experience, our criminal defense attorney will listen to the circumstances of the charge against you and develop a no-nonsense approach to protecting your rights and fighting for the best possible outcome.  

We also serve clients in Parker, Lone Tree, Highland Ranch, Larkspur, Castle Pines, Franktown, Elizabeth, Kiowa, and Centennial. 

What Is Restitution? 

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-1.3-603 states: “Every order of conviction of a felony, misdemeanor, petty, or traffic misdemeanor offense, except any order of conviction for a state traffic misdemeanor offense issued by a municipal or county court in which the prosecuting attorney is acting as a special deputy district attorney pursuant to an agreement with the district attorney's office, shall include consideration of restitution.”  

Restitution is for personal and property damages and losses suffered by the victim. Excluded, however, are emotional and psychological damages such as physical or mental pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. Even loss of future earnings is excluded. 

How Is Compensation Calculated? 

The victim must present documentation to the District Attorney’s office handling the case to show the extent of losses. The District Attorney will then prepare with the victim a document called a Victim Impact Statement (VIS). The VIS will detail the personal and property losses suffered by the victim, including: 

  • Injuries 

  • Monetary losses 

  • Damaged property 

  • Impact on business 

  • Medical costs 

  • Dental costs 

  • Therapy and counseling costs 

  • Prescription fees 

The VIS will also need documentation, including receipts and financial records. If the victim received reimbursement from any insurance policy, then only the deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses can be claimed. 

How Is Restitution Collected? 

The restitution is handled by the Department of Corrections (DOC) while the perpetrator is incarcerated or on parole. Otherwise, the court itself will be in charge of collecting the restitution. If the offender has any income during incarceration, the DOC automatically garnishes 20 percent of all income received. The department does this by garnishing the defendant’s bank accounts or wages. 

When convicted, or after you enter a guilty plea, the court will establish a restitution account. If the offender is not in jail or on parole, the court will be responsible for overseeing repayment. If necessary, the court can order a collection agency to help recover the funds owed, plus interest at 8% a year when unpaid.  

What Happens If You Can’t Pay? 

The basic answer here is that the debt does not go away but continues to accrue interest. If you start off owing $1,000 for medical expenses associated with your crime, in five years, you will owe $1,469 if you have made no payments. If the restitution goes to a collection agency, you will also owe legal fees associated with the collection effort. 

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Restitution? 

Paying restitution is often part of the conditions placed on one’s parole. If you don’t pay, you will thus be in violation of your parole order. A warrant can be issued, and you can be sent to jail.  

What About a Statute of Limitations on Restitution? 

There is no statute of limitations on a restitution order. In other words, unlike a crime for which you cannot be charged after a certain amount of time has passed (except for capital crimes), a restitution order stays in effect until everything has been paid in full, including interest and any legal fees owed. 

Rely on Experienced Legal Counsel 

If you’re facing a criminal charge that could expose you to penalties including restitution in or around Castle Rock, Colorado, you need to reach out to experienced legal counsel immediately. Your future is at stake.  

Even if you avoid jail time, your probation could include provisions such as an order to pay restitution. Let the criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC work with you to exercise your full rights and seek the best possible outcome.