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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Restitution in federal criminal cases

By Spodek Law Group | March 7, 2023

Understanding Restitution for Financial Losses


As a victim of a crime, it can be devastating to suffer financial losses. At Spodek Law Group, we understand the challenges you face in trying to recover from these losses. That’s why we want to provide you with an overview of the process of restitution, and how you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Our experienced attorney, Todd Spodek, can help guide you through this process and ensure that your rights as a victim are protected.

What is Restitution?

Restitution is the process by which a victim of a crime can be repaid for their financial losses suffered as a result of the offense. The Mandatory Restitution Act of 1996 established procedures for determining the amount of restitution to which a victim may be entitled. Spodek Law Group has experience in handling legal situations involving restitution and can help you navigate the process.

Who is Eligible for Restitution?

Under the Act, “identified” victims may be entitled to an order of restitution for certain losses suffered as a result of the commission of an offense as part of the criminal sentence imposed on the defendant, or as part of a plea agreement. Victims may be either individuals or businesses/corporations. As a victim, it is crucial to begin keeping a record of all expenses incurred as a result of the crime, so this information can be used in determining what costs may be ordered by a Judge to be repaid by a defendant if convicted.

Requesting Restitution

Under federal law, in many types of federal cases, it is mandatory for a defendant to pay restitution for cases occurring after April 24, 1996. For most crimes committed prior to this date, Judges have more discretion on whether to order restitution. If a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, available information on each identified victim’s loss, usually obtained by the case agent during the investigation, will be provided to the U.S. Probation Office by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Identified victims whose losses are included in the counts of conviction or as part of a plea agreement will also have the opportunity to request restitution and explain their losses in detail in a Victim Loss Statement.

Describing the Impact of the Crime

As a victim, you will also be asked by the presentence probation officer and/or the U.S. Attorney’s Office to complete a Victim Impact Statement. This statement allows victims the opportunity to report on various consequences of the offense, including financial, social, psychological, and/or medical. The Victim Impact Statement provides an important way for the Judge to consider losses and harm as a result of the crime.

Provisions Regarding Allowable Restitution

In most cases, attorney fees and tax penalties are not included in court-ordered restitution. The Court may order the return of property or money to a victim or to someone a victim chooses. The Court may also order restitution to persons other than victims of a convicted offense, if agreed to in a plea agreement.

Community Service in Lieu of Payment

In most cases, if the victim (or if the victim is deceased, the victim’s estate) consents, the Court may order the defendant to make restitution by performing “service” instead of money, or to make restitution to a person or organization designated by the victim.

Federal Crime Victim Fund

In addition, a victim may at any time assign their own interest in restitution payments to the Crime Victims Fund, through the U.S. Treasury. This fund provides funding to assist crime victim assistance and compensation programs throughout the U.S.

How Does a Victim Begin Receiving Money?

For cases in which the crimes were committed after April 24, 1996, the U.S. Clerk of Court is charged with the distribution of restitution payments. For crimes committed prior to that date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Financial Litigation Unit (FLU), the U.S. Clerk of Court, or the U.S. Probation Office may be responsible, depending on the District.

If you are awarded restitution, simply keep the U.S. Clerk of Court informed of where you live and if your address changes. Any restitution payment owed will be forwarded to you as it becomes available.

Enforcing Orders of Restitution

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) is now charged with enforcing orders of restitution, and monitors efforts in enforcing a Judgment if defendants’ assets or income are identified. In the Northern District of Iowa, in all cases filed under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA) or in cases prior to the MVRA, when restitution is ordered for at least $500, the Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will file a lien. The FLU unit will pursue various means to enforce restitution, as resources permit, on behalf of identified victims for 20 years from the filing date of the Judgment, (plus the time period of actual incarceration) or until the death of the defendant. In addition, while a defendant is under the supervision of a probation officer, that probation officer will also monitor and ensure appropriate restitution is paid, where possible.

Can Victims File a Lien Against the Defendant?

A victim may also choose to request the U.S. Clerk of Court to issue an Abstract of Judgment certifying that a judgment has been entered in a victim’s favor in the amount specified in the Judgment. A victim may then file this with the Recorder’s Office for any county in which it is believed the defendant has assets, if the county is in the state in which a defendant was convicted in federal court. Upon its recording, the Abstract of Judgment becomes a lien upon the property of the defendant in that county/state in the same manner as a state court judgment. Victims should consult with a private attorney for specific information.


At Spodek Law Group, we understand how difficult it can be to recover from the financial losses suffered as a result of a crime. That’s why our experienced attorney, Todd Spodek, is committed to helping you navigate the process of restitution and ensuring that your rights as a victim are protected. If you have been the victim of a crime and have suffered financial losses, contact Spodek Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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