When you are convicted of a crime in Texas, defense lawyers know there are a number of ways that punishment is dealt with during the sentencing phase of a trial. As criminal defense attorneys can attest, such punishment may include fines and restitution which is paid after being convicted; however, there are differences between the two.
Depending upon the crime, criminal defense lawyers may be able to negotiate for you to be sentenced with one or both of these punishments. Therefore, it is important that you understand the difference between a fine and restitution. Talk to your attorney to learn more about how they are handled.
What Are Court Fines?
A fine that is imposed by the court is money you must pay to the municipal, district or federal court as punishment for your crime. Fines are commonly assessed for many crimes. They differ in amount according to the severity of the crime committed, past criminal record, and any plea bargain your lawyers may have negotiated during your sentencing.
Criminal defense attorneys find that minor infractions typically result in smaller fines, sometimes coupled with community service. More serious infractions usually mean a defendant will face larger fines, often in conjunction with jail time and other punishments. A fine is completely unrelated to any financial loss suffered by a victim and must be paid to the court where the sentencing occurred.
What Is Restitution?
Restitution is money paid to victims who suffered financial losses due to the crime that was committed. It is separate from any fines you may receive. Criminal defense lawyers explain that restitution is reimbursement to victims for financial damage they may have suffered. It includes compensation for property damage, stolen property, medical bills for injuries, and funeral costs for victims who were killed as a result of the crime. In certain cases, restitution may be paid to a state restitution fund.
In some instances, attorneys can negotiate for restitution to be assigned in the form of services performed to repay a debt to society.
How is Restitution Paid?
Restitution is determined after conviction during sentencing and as experienced lawyers can affirm, may or may not reflect your ability to pay the amount owed to the victim. The payment amount and payment plan may be negotiated by attorneys during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Payments are usually made to the local community service and corrections department if you are on probation or automatically withdrawn from your trust fund account if you are in jail, then dispersed by the court to the victim.
Although not every conviction results in fines or restitution, criminal defense lawyers stress that some could result in one or even both. In either case, attorneys warn that you are responsible for paying these amounts and failure to do so could result in additional legal action being taken which could include a lien being levied on your personal property.
If you are penalized with either a fine or an order for restitution, criminal defense attorneys will help you understand the terms of these punishments and what you must do to fulfill them.
Reynaldo Garza, III
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
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1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526