Can I get restitution?

Several kids robbed and vandalized a building I own. I believe the police have now caught the suspects. I think charges will be pursued shortly. I will actually be out quite a bit of money although the amount is not the end of the world. In talking with some friends it looks like there may be some possibility that I don’t have to personally try and sue them to get my money back. They thought I could maybe get some money back through the criminal cases. Is this true? I am not very familiar with the process.

The answer to your question is “yes” it is a possibility to recover for your losses from the perpetrators through the criminal case. This process is called restitution.

Without knowing really anything about your case, I will assume that the defendants will in fact be charged and convicted. As with any court process, sometimes there are valid reasons why a prosecutor chooses not to pursue a case or the case is pursued but does not result in a conviction. Of course in those circumstances, you would maybe be forced to consider a civil case to recover for damages.

Assuming that a conviction is obtained against the defendants in your case, the defendants could still request what is called a restitution hearing. The restitution hearing would allow them to dispute the amount of restitution demanded. Thus, you would be well advised to gather documentation demonstrating the extent of your loss. This may include appraisals, estimates or receipts to value personal property or evidence of the cost of repairs that were made to the building.

Again, assuming all defendants are convicted, they will be jointly and severally liable for the entire amount. This means that one defendant is not off the hook by simply paying what amounts to his proportional share of the total. Rather, each defendant is responsible until the entire amount is collectively paid.

Then, assuming the judge awards restitution, there will be some court oversight and a requirement that the amount be paid. For instance, the judge may order the payment of restitution as a condition of probation. The amount may eventually be turned over to the collection process as well.