Restitution Law and Legal Definition

Restitution is a monetary payment sometimes ordered to be made as part of a judgment in negligence and/or contracts cases to restore a loss. In criminal cases, it may be one of the penalties imposed and may require return of stolen goods to the victim or payment to the victim for harm caused. Restitution may be a condition of probation or a reduced sentence.

Victims' compensation departments of many states exist to ensure that crime victims, victim compensation assessments, bail bond forfeitures, court costs required by law, fines levied against criminals for wrongful conduct, and other court-ordered sums payable to the state or to the crime victims are paid in full and that cost of collection are borne by the person who is responsible for payment.

For example, in some states, a court may require persons convicted of domestic abuse crimes to make restitution to a governmental entity that incurred expenses by providing food and shelter to the spouse or children of that person.

Typically, statutes specify that the following may be included in setting the restitution amount:

  • Medical expenses.
  • Lost wages.
  • Counseling expenses.
  • Lost or damaged property.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Other direct out-of-pocket expenses.