Alabama Law May Require Restitution In Alabama Criminal Cases
Restitution in Alabama criminal cases is a common occurrence. Even where a defendant has received probation and avoided a jail sentence, the imposition of restitution can have a devastating effect on the defendant financial condition. When defendants face a judge in a restitution hearing, they should be represented by an Alabama criminal defense attorney. Only an attorney can examine the particular circumstances and assist the defendant in receiving fair treatment.
Alabama Code § 15-18-67 provides that when a defendant is convicted of a crime which resulted in pecuniary damages or loss to a victim, the court is obligated to have a hearing to determine the amount or type of restitution which the defendant must pay to the victim. Restitution in Alabama criminal cases is in addition to any other sentence which is imposed. The victim or their representative has a right to be present at a hearing on restitution in Alabama criminal cases.
When deciding whether to impose restitution in Alabama criminal cases, the judge in the case must consider the following factors:
- The financial resources of the defendant and the victim and the burden that the manner or method of restitution will impose upon the victim or the defendant.
- The ability of the defendant to pay restitution on an installment basis or on other conditions to be fixed by the court.
- The anticipated rehabilitative effect on the defendant regarding the manner of restitution or the method of payment.
- Any burden or hardship upon the victim as a direct or indirect result of the defendant’s criminal acts.
- The mental, physical, and financial well-being of the victim.
A restitution order from the judge does not prevent the victim in a case from pursuing other civil remedies or bringing a civil lawsuit for damages. Fore v. State, 858 So.2d 982 (Ala.Cr.App.2003). Restitution serves a compensatory role and is not intended to be a punitive measure to be used against the defendant. Ex parte Clare, 456 So.2d 357 (Ala.1984). A defendant in an Alabama criminal case has a right to demand a restitution hearing.
Many times restitution in Alabama criminal cases is ordered to be paid in installments as part of the defendant’s probation. When a defendant is sentenced or ordered to make restitution, the court may order payment to be made forthwith to be paid to the circuit clerk as other fines and costs are made. The court may also order restitution to be made within a specified period of time or in specified installments to the circuit clerk as a condition of suspension of execution of sentence or as a condition of probation.
However, the judge must make a finding that the defendant has the financial means to pay the monthly payments before ordering them. Alabama Code § 15-18-65. The State has the burden of proof at a hearing concerning restitution in Alabama criminal cases. Much like a sentencing hearing, the judge can consider a wide variety of evidence, including hearsay statements. Although the victim is not required to produce actual receipts or bills at the hearing, Alabama appellate courts have required that some legal evidence should be introduced as to how the value is reached or calculated.
In cases of capital murder and in some rape first degree cases, the Alabama restitution statute calls for certain minimum amounts of restitution:
- When a defendant has been convicted of a capital offense under subsection (a) of Section 13A-5-40, the court shall order restitution for an amount not less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for each conviction under subsection (a) of Section 13A-5-40.
- When a defendant has been convicted of rape in the first degree under Section 13A-6-61 and the person has one or more prior convictions under Section 13A-6-61, the court shall order restitution for an amount not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each conviction under Section 13A-6-61.
The attorneys a Bradford Ladner, LLP. are experienced Alabama criminal defense attorneys who have assisted numerous clients with restitution matters. The issue of restitution should not be left to chance. Call us today for a consultation.
BRADFORD LADNER, LLP.