Under federal law, restitution is mandatory for many types of crimes. While there is no guarantee that payment will be made, it is important for those victims who may be entitled to restitution to keep a record of their losses, medical expenses, property damage, and counseling expenses, with receipts when possible. This information will be needed by the probation department if someone is convicted and ordered to pay restitution.
Restitution collection is enforced by the Financial Litigation Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office. If you have questions about restitution payments and disbursements, please call the Financial Litigation Unit in our office. You will need the name of the defendant.
Restitution ordered in criminal cases does not cover pain and suffering. As a practical matter, restitution collection is limited by the resources of the defendant. If you become aware of any change in the economic circumstances of the defendant, please call the Financial Litigation Unit. The liability to pay restitution issued under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act lasts 20 years plus any period of incarceration or until the death of the defendant.
Some or all of your loss may consist of property or monies that is recovered by the investigating agency. This will be returned to you as quickly as is possible without jeopardizing the case. Often, one must wait until appeals are exhausted before evidence is returned. For detailed information concerning the restitution process, please review The Restitution Process for Victims of Federal Crimes.
Asset Forfeiture Process
The asset forfeiture process is increasingly being used to compensate victims for losses suffered as a result of criminal activity. Forfeiture is a critical tool in assisting victims because it allows the government to seize or restrain tainted assets prior to trial. In late 2002, the Department greatly simplified procedures for returning forfeited assets to victims by instituting the restoration process, whereby forfeited assets may be used to satisfy a restitution order. For more information about this process, please see the attached guide, Returning Forfeited Assets to Crime Victims: An Overview of Remission and Restoration.