Restitution in Criminal Cases is Not Unlimited

There are new restitution rules for felony and misdemeanor cases in Michigan. The government cannot set up a defendant for failure by seeking unlimited restitution.

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Our Experienced Attorneys in Michigan Can Help Fight an Improper Restitution Order

In criminal cases, restitution requires the repayment of an entity or person that was damaged or lost something due to the commission of a crime. For example, if a criminal defendant breaks a window while committing a crime, the court will order restitution to the victim in the amount of the broken window. The logic is that no one should pay for damages suffered due to someone else’s wrongful act. The state of Michigan has tried to receive restitution from a criminal defendant for the costs of investigating and prosecuting a criminal defendant. The Michigan Court of Appeals in People v Gaines (decided in late 2014) determined that the government can recover its actual loss if it is a “direct physical or financial harm as a result of a crime.” An example would be governmental funds used by a narcotics team to buy drugs, which would be a financial loss. However, to access salaries and overtime pay, cost, and maintenance of vehicles against a defendant as restitution is not allowed because these are costs that would be incurred anyway, regardless of whether a particular defendant committed a crime and could not be reimbursed through restitution.

Prosecutors and Judges Take Advantage of Michigan’s Restitution Law

Because the law requires restitution in all criminal cases where there is a loss to an alleged victim, some prosecutors and judges see this as an opportunity to punish the defendant further. Some alleged victims often over-report their losses in an attempt to gain a profit from the defendant’s prosecution. Both practices are wrong, and although many lawyers lack the confidence and experience to fight an order of restitution, the experienced restitution attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

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Misuse of Restitution in Criminal Cases

In criminal cases, restitution is intended to compensate victims for losses directly resulting from a crime. However, there are instances where the process of seeking reimbursement can be misused or manipulated by victims, leading to unfair or inflated claims. Here are some ways in which victims might take advantage of seeking restitution:

  • Exaggerating Losses: Some victims might inflate the value of their losses or damages. For example, they could claim a higher amount for stolen or damaged property than its actual worth or exaggerate the extent of their injuries to receive more compensation.
  • Including Non-Related Damages: Victims may attempt to include damages or losses not directly caused by the criminal act. This could involve claiming for pre-existing issues or losses that occurred independently of the crime.
  • Double Recovery: In some cases, victims might seek restitution for losses that insurance payouts or other compensation sources have already covered. This can result in the victim receiving a double recovery for the same loss.
  • Exploiting Emotional Impact: While it is legitimate for victims to seek compensation for emotional distress caused by a crime, there may be instances where emotional harm is exaggerated to increase the restitution amount.
  • Manipulating the System: In some situations, victims might use the threat of demanding high restitution as leverage in a case, potentially influencing plea deals or other aspects of criminal proceedings.
  • Lack of Proper Verification: If the process of verifying claims for restitution is not thorough, it can allow for fraudulent or exaggerated claims to go unchecked.

It’s important to note that these situations are not the norm, and most victims seek restitution in criminal cases as a rightful part of their recovery from a crime. In cases where there is suspicion of misuse of the restitution process, it’s crucial for the defense to investigate and challenge any unsubstantiated claims.

Challenging Restitution Requests

In Michigan, defense attorneys can challenge restitution in criminal cases through various legal means to ensure that the restitution ordered is fair and appropriate to the case. One common approach is scrutinizing the evidence supporting the victim’s claim for restitution, questioning the accuracy and relevance of the reported financial losses or damages. Defense attorneys often request detailed documentation, such as receipts, invoices, and other financial records, to verify the legitimacy and extent of the claimed losses. They may also employ expert witnesses, particularly in complex cases involving substantial financial claims or where the valuation of damages is contested.

Another strategy involves highlighting any discrepancies or inconsistencies in the victim’s claims. For instance, if there is evidence that some of the claimed losses were pre-existing or unrelated to the criminal act, the defense will argue against their inclusion in the restitution amount. In cases where insurance has already compensated the victim, the defense attorney will point out instances of potential double recovery to ensure their client is not paying for losses already covered. Additionally, defense attorneys may negotiate with the prosecution and the court to reach a reasonable and equitable agreement on the restitution amount, considering the defendant’s financial capacity and the actual impact of the crime. By meticulously examining and challenging the claims for restitution, defense attorneys in Michigan work to protect their clients from excessive or unjust financial burdens in the aftermath of a criminal conviction.

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Premier Attorneys In Michigan Can Help With Restitution Issues

The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are the premier attorneys in Michigan to help you with all your criminal law concerns. Our attorneys practice only criminal law and have decades of experience in state and federal courts across the United States. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has some of Michigan’s most creative and imaginative attorneys. Our attorneys take the time to be up-to-date on all laws relative to criminal cases, including sentencing and restitution. We regularly attend legal education events and are often asked to present to other lawyers at continuing education conferences. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has an unmatched level of success. We take your trust in us very seriously and pledge to give you the best legal representation available.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

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