Paying Your Debt for Your Crime
A domestic violence conviction can cost you a lot. Beyond jail time, you may face some serious financial consequences as well. You may face fees, fines, and ordered payments that are part of the terms of your probation. Not paying these costs can have serious repercussions. One of the costs you may be ordered to pay under California Penal Code 1203.097 is victim restitution.
Restitution is compensation for the loss a criminal victim sustained as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. You may have to pay restitution as part of your probation. Restitution may partially or fully compensate the victim for his or her losses. It may cover such direct losses as the cost to repair property you damaged in the incident or the costs of displacement if the victim had to leave the home as a result of your actions. It can also cover the costs of medical care, therapy, and counseling for the victim. Common reimbursements include emergency room visits to treat severe injuries, trauma counseling after the incident, and the costs of temporary housing the victim needed to move to stay safe.
The costs of restitution could be significant, but there may be some relief if you don’t have the ability to pay.
The court will consider your assets and earning capacity when determining your ability to pay, but you hold the burden of proving you cannot make the payment in court. Not having the money to pay for basic living expenses is called indigence. If you don’t know how to prove to the court that you are indigent, you may want to consult with a domestic violence attorney before your hearing. An attorney can advise you on what the court will want to see to establish your ability to pay.
In addition to victim restitution, you will be ordered to pay a $500 domestic violence conviction fee that goes towards county domestic violence services and programs. You could also be ordered to make payments to a battered women’s shelter of up to $5,000, and/or pay a fine, which can vary. You will also need to cover the costs of a 52-week batterers’ intervention program. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan or a sliding scale fee that is affordable for you. In addition, you may have costs associated with your probation.
Victim restitution will take priority over ordered payments to a battered women’s shelter. If payments made to a shelter would affect your ability to reimburse the victim for his or her losses, you may not be ordered to make payments to the shelter at all. If the victim is your spouse, the court will not order you to use community funds to pay victim restitution unless your separate property is exhausted. For example, if you have a separate bank account, you would have to use those separate funds to pay your spouse victim restitution before you can use jointly held funds.
You should consult with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney if you are facing domestic violence charges. The consequences of such a conviction are far reaching. You could lose your freedom, and you may suffer great financial losses. The numerous fees, fines, and other costs you could be ordered to pay may be hard to manage. It may also be hard to know how to demonstrate your inability to pay to the court. An attorney can help you navigate this part of your case so you are not ordered to cover costs that are prohibitively expensive. Because the payment of these costs may be a component of your probation, it is very important you be able to pay them. Violating your probation could mean jail time. An attorney can help you face your charges and can make sure the court doesn’t order you to pay costs you truly cannot afford.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing charges for domestic violence, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. Criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens will work hard to defend your rights and help you fight your charges. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights in court. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.