Fines and Restitutions in Federal Criminal Cases
Peter N. Allerton Jr.
Restitution is the act of restoring an individual or entity in whole or in part to the lost circumstances they might have once enjoyed. In a federal criminal context, it is the order of a sentencing court directing a defendant to reimburse or otherwise compensate the victims of his crimes. Restitution is based on the losses suffered by the victims of a crime. Neither the defendant’s financial condition at the time of sentencing, nor his future economic prospects figure in the amount of restitution awarded.
Consequently, in some cases the amount of restitution ordered may exceed what the defendant can ever reasonably be expected to pay, particularly in the case of mandatory restitution. Nevertheless, there have been suggestions that in other instances insufficient restitution has been ordered or collected because of the particularities of restitution law.