Juvenile Restitution Bill

April 28, 2015

Under Florida law, victims of crimes have a right to restitution from the people who commit crimes against them. Restitution is the repayment, whether in money or in kind, of the costs and injuries that a crime caused, directly or indirectly. Both adult and juvenile offenders must pay restitution.

What Is Included in Restitution?

Restitution can include medical expenses, counseling expenses, lost wages (whether resulting from an injury or from time spent helping with the investigation or the prosecution), moving or security expenses, stolen or damaged property, and legal fees for collecting restitution. It does not include compensation for pain and suffering, but it may include payment for the cost of treatment for the pain and suffering. Losses not covered by restitution may be recovered in a civil suit.

For example, if a juvenile burgles a house, breaking a window and stealing a computer, the juvenile offender will be required to pay the victim the cost of repairing the window, and either give back the computer or reimburse the victim for its value. Or if perhaps a juvenile batters someone and breaks his arm, the juvenile would have to pay the victim’s medical expenses, and possibly lost income.

Refusal to Pay Restitution

If a juvenile refuses to pay restitution, there are several possible consequences:

  • The juvenile may be sent to juvenile hall for violating a condition of probation,
  • The court may garnish the juvenile’s wages to pay the cost, or
  • The court may order restitution to be paid out of the juvenile’s assets.

Additionally, the record of a juvenile who refuses to pay restitution cannot be sealed or expunged until payment has been made in full. If a juvenile refuses to pay, he or she may have a court hearing, where there will be an opportunity to present a good reason for not paying, or to show that restitution has actually been paid.

House Bill 235

A bill, HB 235. has passed in the Florida House requiring that, if a juvenile must make restitution, his or her parent or guardian must also be liable for the restitution. Previously, courts had the option to make parents liable, but were not required to do so.

Only parents with current custody of the child may be required to make restitution. The bill’s definition of “parent” does not include foster parents, the Florida Department of Children and Families, or certain facilities and agencies.

A parent can be absolved of liability if:

  • It is the child’s first delinquency and the parent has made efforts to prevent the child from breaking the law, or
  • The victim entitled to restitution is the delinquent child’s parent or guardian.

The bill provides that if the parents and child are unable to pay the restitution in a lump sum, the court may set up a payment plan. Courts also may order community service for the child and parent. The bill has passed in the House and is currently in committee in the Senate.

If your child has gotten in trouble with the law, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced attorney. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.