California Restitution Law

The California Constitution provides that restitution shall be ordered in every case where a person is convicted of a crime involving a victim who suffered a loss.  “It is the intent of the Legislature that a victim of crime who incurs any economic loss as a result of the commission of a crime shall receive restitution directly from any defendant convicted of that crime” (Penal Code § 1202.4).

Parent Liability for Restitution

If the offender is a juvenile, the parent or guardian is presumed to be jointly and severally liable for the restitution owed (Welfare & Institutions Code § 730.7).  This presumption of liability is rebuttable and is subject to the limitations outlined in Civil Code §§ 1714.1 and 1714.3.

Restitution Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

Criminal Restitution is a permanent order that does not expire and is not dischargeable through bankruptcy (Penal Code § 1214).

Court Ordered Restitution

Restitution is monetary compensation owed to the victim for any damages they suffered because of a person’s criminal conduct.  State law requires judges to order an offender to pay restitution in every case in which the victim has suffered an economic loss as a result of a crime.  Some of the losses covered include:

  • Property Loss
  • Medical and Dental Expenses
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Wage and Income Loss
  • Interest
  • Possible Future Losses

Determining Restitution Amounts

Victims have a right to restitution for the value of damaged property, defined as replacement cost of like property or the cost of repair, if repair is possible. Restitution for damaged property that can be repaired is the lesser of market value before crime minus the value after crime or reasonable cost of repairing property to condition before the damage by defendant (People vs. Yanez (1995) 38 Cal.App4th 1622, 1627).

Restitution in DUI Cases

Restitution is usually an issue in DUI cases whenever there is an accident.  Restitution can be ordered to repair property that was damaged by the DUI driver, pay for medical expenses if a person suffered injuries, and to compensate the police for doing an investigation in your DUI case.

Insurance Coverage

In most cases, insurance will cover all of the damages that are being claimed in a DUI accident case.  But if there are additional expenses not covered by your insurance company, you may be liable for those expenses.

No Insurance Coverage

If you do not have insurance, then you will be required to pay out of pocket for the full amount of the restitution order.

Restitution for Police Services

Government Code 53150 allows for the police to collect restitution for emergency response services related to dui accidents.  In DUI cases where there is an accident you will most likely receive a bill from the law enforcement agency seeking reimbursement for their time in responding to the DUI accident.  The amount of this bill is often included in any restitution order by the court.  You can challenge this bill if you feel it is too high. 

Restitution Converted to Civil Judgements

A criminal or juvenile Order for Restitution is enforceable as a civil judgment (Penal Code § 1214). The law establishes procedures for the enforcement of civil judgments.  Restitution can be collected through garnishments, levies, or liens.  It is best to resolve the restitution issue at the time your case is concluded so you know what is owed.    

Restitution Hearing

If you disagree with the amount of restitution that a judge orders or that the victim requests, you have the right to a hearing to challenge the amounts requested.  For example, we have had cases where the claim for a telephone pole was over $10,000 dollars.  After a restitution hearing, we were able to get that amount reduced significantly for our client because the actual replacement value of the pole was much less then what was being requested by the utility company.      

Contact our office today for a free same day consultation

Because you have so much to lose, you need the most experienced and aggressive DUI Defense attorneys on your side. Whether it’s defending you in trial or negotiating for dismissal, you can count on us. Our experienced and aggressive negotiating efforts usually result in better outcomes for our clients including reduced charges, lesser jail days, and smaller fines. Call our office today at (916) 939-3900 to speak directly to an attorney about your DUI case. We are open 24/7/365 to answer your questions.