Theft Restitution

Theft cases are prosecuted very seriously in Washington DC. After being convicted of theft, a person is almost always forced to pay restitution to the individual or entity the property was taken from. Restitution can sometimes be a minimal amount but may number in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. It is important if you are facing theft restitution penalties, to contact an experienced theft attorney to learn how to best handle your situation.

Restitution in Theft Cases

Restitution is a very common issue in theft cases. For the prosecution to proceed with a theft case, they must establish that the person in question took something unlawfully, and they did so by depriving someone of goods or services without their permission. In a situation where the goods were not recovered, or services were performed but not paid for, there is theft restitution in the form of payment of money owed back to the complainant. When something was stolen and not recovered, the fair market value of that item can be ordered as restitution.

For example, when a bicycle worth $250 is stolen, and an individual is found guilty of theft, the court can order them to repay the $250. It is the same situation if an individual was to take a lengthy taxi ride and not pay the fare. If they are convicted, they will have to repay the value of the ride that was skipped out on.

Restitution is mandatory in the sense that if someone is convicted of theft and caused damage to a complainant, they are ordered to repay said damage. In almost every case, an individual should expect that some form of restitution is to be ordered. However, there are times when either the amount is very small, or the value of the services is minimal, and the complainant does not seek any theft restitution. For whatever reason, the complainant decided that they do not want to bother with having any restitution.

Specific Conditions

Restitution in theft cases is not only applied to a singular individual who has been found guilty of theft of property from another individual. There are specific circumstances where larger entities may be involved, and active legal statutes can be in play. These include restitution applied to a large entity, and the effect restitution has on a person’s probation.

  • Large Entities: Embezzlement cases almost always involve theft from a company. For example, a bank employee creates fictitious accounts and then draws money from those accounts for personal use. That individual can then be ordered to repay the amount of money lost.
  • A Condition of Probation: If an individual is put on probation, the restitution can be a condition of probation such that if the person willfully stops paying the restitution, they can be found to be in violation of probation. Their probation can be revoked in certain cases.

Paying Restitution

If someone is convicted at trial, theft restitution is ordered by the court if it is proven against them. In such a case, there is usually some outstanding amount that is to be repaid. In a situation where the person pleaded guilty through an agreement with the government, the government can include the payment of restitution as part of that agreement. Usually, a specific amount of the restitution is determined prior to the entry of the plea, so the accused person knows exactly how much they must repay.

The restitution process in a theft case involves the person making monthly payments to the court. Those payments are then sent to the complainant because the court does not want a defendant having direct communication with the complainant. The court is the go-between, where usually the probation department oversees the restitution process.

Inability to Pay

When the person is unable to pay restitution, they can seek redress from the court to allow them to stop making payments. In that case, the restitution amount is converted to a money judgment against that person. If that person later acquires assets or gets a job, the complainant has the judgment against them. They can file that judgment in whatever jurisdiction the assets or the job of the individual are located, and take action such as garnishment or asset forfeiture.