As a criminal defense attorney in Stearns County and around Minnesota, I frequently argue on behalf of clients at restitution hearings. Victims of crimes request restitution by submitting a sworn affidavit. If you’re conviction of a crime in Stearns, Hennepin, or any Minnesota county, and you cause damage to property or injure somebody during the incident, you may be ordered by the judge to pay restitution as a condition of probation.
Restitution in a criminal case may include cost to replace or repair damaged property, medical bills, or insurance deductibles, for example. In Minnesota, crime victims have a legal right to restitution for specific losses caused by the defendant if the defendant is convicted of a crime. The primary purpose of restitution is to restore crime victims to the same financial position they were in before the crime. Under Minnesota law, district court judges have considerable discretion to award restitution.
What factors determine restitution?
Judges in Stearns, Hennepin and all Minnesota counties apply Minnesota Statute § 611A.045 and consider two primary factors to determine whether restitution is appropriate as a condition of probation:
- the amount of economic loss sustained by the victim as a result of the offense; and
- the income, resources, and obligations of the defendant.
The term “victim” in the restitution statute is defined to include any person who incurs loss or harm as a result of a crime, including a good faith effort to prevent a crime.
Can a defendant challenge a restitution order?
Yes. Minnesota law specifically outlines a defendant’s right to challenge any amount of restitution requested by a victim. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 611A.045 a defendant challenging restitution must:
- File a detailed sworn affidavit specifically challenging restitution and
- specify all reasons justifying dollar amounts of restitution which differ from the amounts requested by the victim.
The prosecution has the burden of proof in restitution hearing
After a defendant meets these two requirements, the burden of proving restitution shifts to the prosecution. Minnesota law requires the prosecution to prove restitution by a preponderance of the evidence.
If you think you may be liable for restitution on a criminal case, consult the best Minnesota criminal defense lawyer prior to reaching any plea bargain with the prosecution. In most cases restitution can be determined, negotiated, and even reduced prior to finalizing any plea bargain.
For a free consultation to discuss a criminal case involving restitution call Neuville Law Office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (612) 354-2622.