Self-Help for Victims
The people who are the most interested in seeing restitution collected, and the most likely to notice when restitution is not paid, are the victims themselves. They are also likely to have questions about who is responsible for collecting restitution, what avenues are available to collect restitution, and whether they as victims have any ability to enforce a restitution order themselves.
The California Victim Compensation Program and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services, have developed an easy-to-read
Guide for Victims that includes information about the process of collecting restitution. It explains how restitution is collected from offenders who are incarcerated or on supervision and who a victim should contact if he or she is not receiving restitution.
More concise brochures have been developed by: the
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services; the Dakota County,
Minnesota, County Attorney's Office; and the
New York State Office of Victim Services.
State law usually permits a restitution order to be enforced as a civil judgment. In some states, this option is available immediately; more commonly, an outstanding restitution order is converted to a civil judgment at the time the defendant is released from supervision.
Victims typically need additional information about using the civil process to enforce their restitution orders. The process of asset discovery, obtaining a lien, or garnishing wages, can be confusing. A separate brochure on collecting restitution through the civil process, such as the one developed by the Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Eaton County,
Michigan, or the District Attorney's Office in San Diego County,
California, can be helpful.
Jurisdictions should also identify an agency or individual who can answer victims' questions about civil enforcement of restitution orders, such as the prosecutor's office or the victim compensation program.
This toolkit was produced by the National Center for Victims of Crime under cooperative agreement 2009-SZ-B9-K006, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Copyright © 2011 National Center for Victims of Crime. All rights reserved.