If your thinking about taking a plea agreement, and a high restitution award is part of the agreement, you should be fully aware of how this could potentially come back to bite you. Many individuals agree to high restitution claims in exchange for little or no jail time. But what they don’t realize at the time, is they may end up in jail or prison any ways if they fail to make court ordered payments or fail to pay off the restitution by a certain date. Understanding all of the details surrounding a restitution award is essential. Before you agree to any restitution as part of a plea agreement, we suggest you fully consider the following.
Don’t Agree to What You Can’t Pay
First, anyone taking a plea agreement where restitution is part of the deal should only agree to an amount they can realistically pay back within a shorter period of time. Failing to pay restitution can mean your case and your probation period stay open for years. If you are unable to pay the restitution amount you may never successfully close your case and you might end up in jail or prison. A good rule of thumb is to only agree to a restitution amount which you could realistically pay off within the time of your probation. For instance, if you are sentenced to probation of 18 months and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $18,000.00, you realistically need to be able to pay $1,000 per month for the length of your probation. If you can’t do it, try to negotiate another resolution.
Negotiate Specific Terms Upfront
Often a person will agree on a restitution amount but will not attempt to negotiate any of the other details of the repayment making it easy for a prosecutor or judge to later make it an issue when you start only paying X amount of dollars each month. Negotiate the repayment terms upfront, not just the amount. Often when you agree to an amount set forth by the prosecution, you can get a little bit more flexibility on the other repayment terms.
Review with an Attorney
Before you agree to any amount of restitution, make sure you review your case with a St. George Criminal Defense Attorney. Also, if you are served with an order to show cause for failing to make court ordered restitution, you should hire a lawyer asap. More information on restitution in the state of Utah can be found here. Or you can pick up the phone and get a free consultation with a member of out team today.