FAQ: Collecting Restitution
Penal Code section 1214(b) provides that in any case where a defendant is ordered to pay restitution, the order is deemed a money judgment if the defendant was informed of his/her right to judicial determination of the amount was provided with a hearing, waived a hearing, or stipulated to the amount of the restitution order.
The order is fully enforceable by a victim as if it were a civil judgment and enforceable in the same manner as is provided for the enforcement of any other money judgment.
Penal Code section 1214(b) further provides that a victim shall have access to all resources available under the law to enforce the restitution order, including, but not limited to, access to the defendant’s financial records, information regarding the defendant’s assets, use of wage garnishment, and lien procedures.
For more information on unclaimed restitution, please see:
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Restitution Collection Efforts
- California State Controller's Office: Unclaimed Criminal Restitution
At the time of sentencing, a victim's losses are not yet known. How should the issue of assessing a restitution order be handled?
According to Penal Code section 1202.4(f), in every case in which a victim has suffered economic loss as a result of the defendant's conduct, the court shall require that the defendant make restitution to the victim or victims in the amount established by the court, based on the amount of loss claimed by the victim(s) or any other showing to the court. In those cases when the amount of loss cannot be ascertained, the court shall order restitution with a provision that the amount is "to be determined" (TBD). In the future, once crime-related expenses are incurred, the court can then order that amount of restitution to be paid to the victim after a hearing or with concurrence of the offender.
In any case in which an order may be entered, the defendant, pursuant to Penal Code 1202.4 (f)(5), is required to file a “Defendant’s Statement of Assets” (CR-115) prior to sentencing, a disclosure identifying all assets, income, and liabilities in which the defendant held an interest as of the date of the defendant's arrest. This disclosure is available to the victim pursuant to Penal Code section § 1214.
Additionally, victims may serve Form Interrogatories – Crime Victim Restitution (CR-200) to ascertain further financial interests of the defendant. These interrogatories are designed for use by crime victims to assist them in recovering unpaid restitution as provided in Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.5(d) and (e).
Penal Code section 1214(b) provides that upon a victim’s request, the court shall provide the victim in whose favor the order of restitution was entered with a certified copy of the order (CR 110) and a copy of the defendant’s financial disclosure statement. You can contact the clerk of the court directly, or contact the Victim Witness Assistance Center in the county where the offender was sentenced. You may be charged a fee for copies of documents by that court.
Can a restitution fine or order, imposed in juvenile proceedings, be collected from the offenders' parents?
Yes. Welf. & Inst. Code section 730.7 states that in any case where a minor has been ordered to make restitution to the victim or is ordered to pay fines, a parent or guardian, who has joint or sole legal and physical custody and control of the minor, may be responsible with the minor for the amount of restitution.
The court, in determining the parent/guardian’s liability, can consider the parent/guardian’s inability to pay as well as the number of dependents and specific financial obligations. However, the court, in considering inability to pay, may also consider the parent/guardian’s future earning capacity. (Welf. & Inst. Code section 730.7(a))
The basic restitution fine structure is:
- Misdemeanor convictions are limited to a maximum of $100.
- Felony convictions shall not be less than $100 and not more than $1,000.
In setting the fine, the seriousness and gravity of the offense, as well as the extent to which others suffered losses as a result of the offense, will be taken into consideration by the court. This ensures that the fine is commensurate with the crime.