Restitution from Criminal Convictions

Restitution as a Requirement of Probation in Colorado

Orders of Restitution in Arapahoe, Jefferson and Adams County can have just as big of an impact on your life as a criminal conviction. Did you know that if you are convicted of a crime, you are responsible for paying all costs incurred to a victim by your conduct? Regardless of the crime, "every order of conviction... shall include a consideration of restitution" (Assessment of Restitution, C.R.S. 18-1.3-603). This can include payment for medical bills, counseling, and any other monetary loss that can be reasonably calculated. The scope of Restitution losses can be very broad and exceed common sense.  The trial court has enormous discretion in calculating restitution but must base its decision on information produced by the victim and compiled by the prosecution attorney.

The Definition of Restitution in a Criminal Case

Restitution is: "Any pecuniary loss suffered by a victim and includes but is not limited to all out-of-pocket expense, interest, loss of use of money, anticipated future expense, rewards pad by victims, money advanced by law enforcement agencies, money advanced by a government agency for a service animal, adjustment expenses, and other losses or injuries proximately caused by an offender's conduct and that can be reasonably calculated and recompensed in money."

Restitution can also include the following:

  • Extraordinary public and private investigative costs
  • Costs incurred by anyone to remove or clean up a place used to manufacture a controlled substance
  • Costs to preserve, test or store evidence of a controlled substance
  • Costs to care for and sell an animal disposed in an animal cruelty case
  • Costs for overtime wages for police officers or other government employees
  • Costs for equipment
  • Costs for one time use clothing
  • Governmental or private insurance benefits paid

Restitution does not include damages for physical or mental pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, a loss of future earnings, or punitive damages.

In some cases, particularly in traffic offenses involving accidents in Douglas and Denver County, people claiming to be victims fabricate or exaggerate their restitution claims to profit from a crime. Because of the financial obligations involved, it is important to have an attorney negotiate the restitution as part of the overall disposition of the case. In cases where that is not possible and the amount of restitution is disputed, a restitution hearing may be requested. Thousands of dollars can be at stake and expert testimony may be necessary. The amount of restitution can be critical because an order of restitution must be paid in full in order to successfully complete a probation sentence.

Serious Consequences if Restitution is Not Paid in Full as Ordered

An order of restitution has consequences that last well beyond your sentencing hearing. In cases where the restitution has not been paid in full by the end of probation, the court has the authority to extend a defendant's probation in Boulder and Summit County. This can create additional expenses and costs associated with remaining on probation. A defendant's probation may also be terminated and the remaining restitution converted into a civil judgment, usually occurring when a defendant demonstrates an inability to pay at a court hearing. However, the harshest possibility is that a defendant's probation will be revoked, causing the person to be resentenced and face harsher sanctions than what were originally imposed.  Without successful payment, you are exposed to jail or prison for a failure to comply with the court's Restitution order.

Even if the charges you face are relatively minor, if you are concerned about the potential liability you would face due to the requirement of restitution, call the O'Malley Law Office. If you have been charged with violating your probation because you have not paid restitution, our lawyers can defend you against the revocation. We are experienced attorneys who devote ourselves solely to the practice of criminal defense. When you are accused of a crime, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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