Frequently Asked Questions
- When Will I Get My Money?
There are sometimes hundreds of victims in fraud cases and payments have to be disbursed to all the victims at the same time. Restitution payments also are dependent on financial resources the defendant has at the time of sentencing and whether the defendant has any children or family who are dependent on him/her for income. If the defendant is in prison, the defendant will most likely not be able make any payments or make only small payments (this is because prisoners that are in prison's work program are paid very little, as low as 11 cents per hour). For example, if the defendant makes a $25 payment, that payment then has to be spread among numerous victims, thus each victim may only get $1 payment towards restitution. Therefore, you may not receive any restitution or only partial restitution paid out over a very long time period.
- What Happened to All the Money the Defendant Took From Me?
While the U.S. Attorney's Office attempts to seize any assets the defendant has, usually the defendant has spent all the victim's money to support himself on things like rent, food, car leases, etc. Generally, the defendant does not have bank accounts with the victim's money in it.
- How Is Restitution Collected and Dispersed?
The U.S. Clerk of Court receives payments from the defendant and then will forward payments to the victims. However, as noted above, these payments can often be quite small. The Clerk does not issue checks for small amounts because this is not economically feasible. Therefore, the Clerk will wait until there is a more substantial amount to disburse to the victims (ex: a check for $10 vs a check for only $2). The Clerk will NOT send a letter notifying you a payment is coming - you will just receive a check in the mail.
- How Long Will the Defendant Have to Make Payments?
Restitution judgments are in effect and enforced for 20 years. Thus, the defendant has 20 years to make all the restitution. The U.S. Attorney's Financial Litigation Unit is responsible for enforcing restitution payments. Even though a defendant may not have assets at the time he/she is sentenced and serves any term of imprisonment, he/she may have an ability to make restitution after release. Therefore, it is important that you keep the U.S. Attorney's Office informed of any address changes.
- What Should I Do to Make Sure I Receive Restitution?
Contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 425 West Capitol, Suite 500, Little Rock, AR 72201, Attn: Amanda Warford - Victim Witness Coordinator.
- What if I Don't Want to Be Bothered?
You should provide a written notification to the United States Attorney's Office and request that your portion be assigned to the Crime Victim Fund.
- What if I Am the Power of Attorney or Legal Guardian for the Victim and I Am Receiving the Restitution Notice?
You should provide written notification to the United States Attorney's Office regarding your desire for restitution. Make sure you indicate the victim’s name on the form and your relationship to the victim (ex: power of attorney, son, etc). Please be aware that restitution can be made to the victim’s estate if the victim is deceased.
- What if I Receive a Restitution Payment and Then Don't Get Another One?
As stated above, restitution payments tend to be quite small and it takes some time for there to be enough to send to the victims. Thus, you could receive a payment and not receive another one for another couple of months. The defendant may have lost his/her job and can’t make payments temporarily or the defendant may have just stopped making payments which is a violation of the terms of probation or supervised release (these reasons apply to defendants who are on probation or have been released from prison). However, if you have been receiving payments on a consistent regular basis and then suddenly are not receiving them, you should contact the U.S. Probation Office to determine the reason.
- Who Should I Contact if I Have Any Questions?
Amanda Warford - Victim Witness Coordinator (501) 340-2648 or (800)379-2554
Updated July 15, 2015