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Report: Restitution often ordered, often unpaid

If you are arrested and charged with a financial crime, then you are likely going to be facing severe penalties in federal court. One of the many penalties you could be facing in this situation is an order for restitution.

Whether this order comes from the courts or as part of a plea deal, restitution is a common element in sentences for financial crimes. In fact, it has been ordered in about 75 percent of tax-related criminal cases and 86 percent of federal embezzlement cases. However, according to recent reports, overĀ 81 percent of outstanding federal restitution amounts are uncollectible.

Why restitution may go unpaid

There are a couple main reasons why restitution can be so difficult to collect from people convicted of a financial crime. Primarily, they rarely have the resources to pay it. In light of legal fees, loss of job, financial penalties and jail sentences, people sentenced for these crimes rarely have any money to pay in restitution. And any income they do collect once they get another job is typically going to be a fraction of what they were earning before a conviction.

Another factor that contributes to such high rates of non-payment is disorganization in government agencies. Until recently, it was very difficult to access reporting systems to monitor and collect outstanding criminal debts.

What if you can't or don't pay restitution?

Failure to pay restitution is a serious violation, whether you refuse to pay or cannot pay. You can face probation violations, liens on your property and even more jail time for not paying restitution.

Protecting yourself from restitution orders and other penalties

Restitution is one penalty people don't always think about when they think about a criminal sentence. However, this obligation can ultimately lead to additional punishment and it can make life after serving a sentence much harder than it would otherwise be.

If you have questions about restitution as part of a sentence or concerns regarding payment violations, then it can be critical that you discuss them with an attorney. A legal representative can help you understand your legal options and mitigate the financial penalties you could be facing for a federal criminal offense.

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