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Restitution

In addition to any other punishment, the court shall order defendants to make restitution to victims for:

  • Damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant’s offense.
  • Damage or loss related to the defendant’s crime Victim means each person who suffers property damage or loss, monetary expense, or physical injury or death as a direct or indirect result of the defendant’s offense or criminal episode. It also includes the victim’s estate if the victim is deceased, the victim’s next of kin if the victim is deceased, and the victim’s next of kin if the victim is deceased as a result of the offense.

When an offense has resulted in bodily injury to a victim, a restitution order entered shall require the defendant to pay:

  • The cost of necessary medical and related professional services, and services relating to physical, psychiatric, and psychological care, including non-medical care and treatment rendered in accordance with a recognized method of healing.
  • The cost of necessary physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation.
  • Reimbursement of income lost by the victim as a result of the offense.
  • An amount equal to the cost of necessary funeral and related services if an offense that resulted in bodily injury also resulted in the death of a victim.

With the exception of domestic violence cases, cases prosecuted by this office in which there is a victim will have an accompanying Victim Impact Statement (VIS) sent by the prosecutor who is assigned to that case. The VIS will ask the victim to specify the amount of restitution (if any) the person(s) is out of pocket — any expense incurred as a result of criminal behavior by the defendant. Examples include but are not limited to: damage to property, stolen property, medical bills, lost wages, but not pain and suffering. This VIS is then sent back by the victim(s) to the prosecuting attorney and made part of the case file.

It is important that a victim of a crime keep track of any bills, out-of-pocket expenses and work missed, so that there is documentation. Please do not send the originals to the State Attorney’s Office; send copies to the prosecuting attorney unless instructed otherwise. If there is additional restitution, victims of crime should continue to update the prosecutor as the case progresses.

If the state and defense are unable to reach agreement as to the amount, a restitution hearing may be set during which the state must  prove by a preponderance of the evidence the amount of loss sustained by the victim. The victim will need to come to court and testify if a restitution hearing is necessary.

If the defendant does not have the financial means to pay restitution, the Court may enter a civil restitution lien against the defendant. Generally, a person cannot be punished for not having the money to pay restitution. The civil restitution lien will attach to the defendant’s current assets and any future assets that may accrue to the defendant up to the full amount of the lien.

It is extremely unlikely, if a civil restitution lien is placed against a defendant, that a victim ever will recover the full amount of restitution entitled.

Victim(s) of crimes seeking restitution have a variety of services they can contact for help:

  • To learn more about how to collect a judgment. Clerk Self Help
  • Contact Palm Beach County Victim Services, on the 5th Floor of the main courthouse at 205 North Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, (561) 355-2418. Victim advocates at this location can assist with a wide variety of services including how to seek restitution.
  • In addition, the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund (CCTF), Office of the Attorney General, The Capitol PL-01, Tallahassee, FL 32399, 850-414-3300) assists victim(s) of crime in securing restitution.

There are time limitations in addition to several other criteria. File claims as soon as possible.