Restitution is the payment that a victim receives after suffering a loss or damage to his or her property. In New Jersey, a person charged with theft may be required to pay restitution to the victim of the crime. Theft charges, like other charges, are organized by degree depending on the severity of the case. Only second degree theft charges require that the defendant pay restitution. A theft is considered a second degree charge if one of the following criteria are met:
- The item, property or service is taken by extortion
- The value of the stolen property is greater than $75,000
- The stolen item is human remains
- The stolen property is one kilogram or more of a controlled dangerous substance
Along with restitution, a second degree theft charge can carry a penalty of a fine of up to $150,000 and five to ten years in prison. A second degree crime charge comes with the presumption of incarceration, which means that the defendant, if convicted, will likely be sentenced to serve some jail time.
The restitution amount that the defendant is ordered to pay will, in most circumstances, match the amount of money or value of the property the victim lost. This requirement of restitution payment is set by N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3. N.J.S.A. 2C:44-2(b) addresses how the court may decide the amount and payment method to require. It requires courts to consider the current and potential future earnings of the defendant, along with his or her other financial assets. The court must also decide the best way to require payment without bankrupting the defendant.
Failure to Make Restitution Payments
If a defendant defaults on his or her restitution payments, he or she risks having his or her driver's license suspended. One's driver's license is only at risk if the court determines that the defendant defaulted without a good cause. N.J.S.A. 2C:46-2 describes the difference in penalties for whether or not a defendant has a good cause for defaulting on his or her restitution payments. If the court finds that the defendant has a good cause, such as losing his or her job, the judge may extend his or her probation, giving the defendant more time to pay. If the defendant is found to have no good cause for defaulting and is refusing to pay the restitution payments, he or she can be sentenced to jail time or to perform community service.
Restitution is intended to help restore what a victim lost to a criminal act. If you have been a victim of theft, you could potentially be entitled to restitution. Compensation received through the Violent Crimes Compensation Board does not affect the amount of restitution the victim is entitled to. If there are more than one victim of a particular crime and the offender is required to pay restitution, the court may set one victim as a higher priority than the other or others, depending on the details of the specific case. Additionally, restitution payments do not interfere with civil recovery sought by the victim. Civil remedy is the right of the court to impose penalties. That means that additional fines or fees may accompany a restitution requirement.
Call a NJ Attorney Experienced in Theft Charges
Know your rights and your options. If you have a second degree theft charge pending, the judge may require you to pay restitution. Call Villani & DeLuca at (732) 709-7757 for a free legal consultation. Villani & DeLuca's experienced legal team can help you learn exactly what your charges are and what options you have to defend yourself in court. Villani & DeLuca proudly serve residents of Ocean and Monmouth Counties and the firm's attorneys are committed to providing the highest level of legal service to their clients.