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COLLECTING ON A CRIMINAL ORDER OF RESTITUTION OR CRIMINAL JUDGMENT

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By Stephen J. Muhonen, Creditor’s Rights / Collections Attorney, Racine Olson, PLLP

Have you ever been the victim of a crime?  Ughhh!  It can be so frustrating!  First there is the event itself that caused your property to be either stolen, injured or damaged.  This is where one is first “victimized” by the bad guy or at-fault party.  Next, the person is charged with a crime and then, generally, after a few months, maybe even much longer, the case is adjudicated and the judge orders the prosecuting attorney to submit any claim(s) for restitution.  As the victim you collect receipts, get bids, obtain estimates, obtain other proof of loss and provide them to the prosecuting attorney.  The prosecutor then submits your damages to the court, which the defendant can then contest as to the amount due and owing.  Once the dust settles on the dispute (if any) as to how much is owed by the defendant to the victim, the court then enters its Order of Restitution or Judgment.  It is at this time where the victim of the crime can often feel victimized again.

Sometimes the defendant abides by the judgment or order imposed against him/her and pay as obligated.  Sometimes they pay it in one lump sum.  Sometimes they make the payments a little bit at a time over a certain period of probation; and sometimes they don’t pay it at all.  So you contact the prosecuting attorney who can then provide notice to the court that the defendant is not paying as ordered and ask the judge to find that the defendant is in violation of the terms and conditions of his/her probation.  Unfortunately, the most a judge can do is hold the defendant in contempt or in violation of probation and have him/her incarcerated.  Hopefully this gets the defendant’s attention, but it does not put money in your pocket.  So, what are your alternatives?

Idaho Code 19-5304 provides a means for the criminal courts to enter orders for restitution for those who sustain economic loss.  It is important to note though that in the criminal law arena, less tangible damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and other similar general damages are not available to be compensated through a criminal restitution order.  Idaho Code 19-5305 is the authority that allows a person who is the victim of a crime to be able to take collecting on the judgment into their own hands.  This statute provides that after forty-two (42) days from the entry of the order of restitution, the order can be converted to a civil judgment and the victim can then execute upon the judgment as allowed by law for the collection of civil judgments.

If you are the victim of a crime seeking assistance in collecting restitution from those who committed a crime upon you or your property, give Steve Muhonen at Racine Olson, PLLP, a call at 208-232-6101.  You can also email Steve at steve@racineolson.com

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