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Restitution vs fines in criminal justice cases

A person who is facing a criminal case usually has to think about several sentencing options that the court might invoke. These include incarceration, fines and restitution. Most people understand those first two, but they may have some questions about the third.

The fines you pay go to the court system, but they don't help the victim of the crime at all. If you are convicted of something that destroyed property or caused the victim to have financial damages, you might have to repay them the money they are out of. This is known as restitution.

For example, if you break a person's mailbox or window, you might be ordered to pay for the broken item to be repaired or replaced. Money that's ordered as restitution goes to the victim instead of the court system, so don't think that the victim gets any of the fees or fines you pay the court.

One thing to remember about restitution is that the amount can vary. Sometimes, the victim will have a receipt or proof of their financial loss. The court may use that to determine how much restitution is appropriate. In the absence of that proof, the court may try to determine what the suitable damages were and base the restitution order off that.

In the case of white collar crimes, the loss might be clearly noted. For example, a person convicted of embezzling $250,000 would likely be ordered to pay restitution. Working with someone who's familiar with these case is beneficial, so they can let you know what options you have for handling the matter.

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