Penal Code 1214 PC – Collection of Restitution Funds

Penal Code 1214 PC is the California statute that says once a dollar amount of restitution has been ordered in a criminal case, the order is then enforceable as if it were a civil judgment. This means that a victim will have all the resources available under California law to collect his/her payments.

Victim restitution (compensation) refers to a victim's right to recover any economic losses that he/she incurred as the result of another person's criminal wrongdoing.

A restitution hearing is held in many California criminal cases for:

  1. the victim to establish the exact amount of his/her losses, and/or
  2. the defendant to contest the amount of restitution that the victim seeks.

Please note that victim restitution is not the same thing as compensation under the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). The CalVCP is a state fund designed to provide compensation to victims of violent crimes for unreimbursed losses associated with those crimes.

CalVCP claims are often made in connection with such violent crimes as:

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

victims restitution money under gavel

1. What is provided under California Penal Code 1214 PC?

Penal Code 1214 PC is the California statute that says once a dollar amount of restitution has been ordered in a criminal case, the order is then enforceable as if it were a civil judgment. This means that a victim will have all the resources available under California law to collect his payments.1

These “resources” may include (but are not limited to):

  • access to the defendant's financial records and assets via a "defendant's statement of assets," which the defendant must sign under penalty of perjury (subjecting him/herself to California Penal Code 118 PC perjury charges if he/she omits or falsifies information),23
  • the ability to garnish wages (if the defendant is employed), and
  • the ability to place a lien on any property.2

2. What is victim restitution and compensation?

Victim restitution (compensation) refers to a victim's right to recover any economic losses that he/she incurred as the result of another person's criminal wrongdoing.

"Victims" may include

  • the person who suffered a direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm,
  • the family of the individual who suffered a loss, or even
  • a business, government or other entity who has suffered a loss due to another person's criminal acts.3

"Losses" include (but are not limited to):

  • stolen, damaged or destroyed property,
  • medical and/or therapy bills,
  • lost wages if the victim was unable to work due to the crime (which includes court and travel time),
  • damage to a business or its property, and
  • any reasonable attorneys' fees that were incurred by trying to collect the ordered restitution.4

California law provides that victims of crimes are entitled to recover the full amount for any reasonable losses or expenses.5 The prosecutor is not even allowed to reduce this amount during a plea bargain, because he/she has no right to waive any claims on the victim's behalf.6

judge reading a restitution document

3. What is a restitution hearing?

A restitution hearing is held in many California criminal cases for:

  1. the victim to establish the exact amount of his/her losses, and/or
  2. the defendant to contest the amount of restitution that the victim seeks.

At this hearing, the victim has the burden of proving that the defendant's criminal conduct substantially caused the victim's losses. The defendant's conduct doesn't have to be the only factor that contributed to the loss, as long as the conduct was at least a substantial factor.7

The victim must prove that the amount of compensation she is requesting is proper. The standard of proof is "a preponderance of the evidence," a legal concept which means "more likely than not".8 Evidence such as

  • bills,
  • business records,
  • medical expenses, and
  • profits lost

are all admissible at the hearing.9 If the victim doesn't have this type of documentary evidence, she can simply explain what she believes were her losses.

If the defendant disputes this amount, it is he who then has the burden of proving that the requested amount is inappropriate, perhaps by obtaining his own estimates.10 The defendant always has the right to challenge the amount ordered.11

If a judge agrees with the victim and awards restitution, then he will either

  • require the defendant to pay the victim the full amount in one payment, or
  • set up a payment plan for the defendant to make installment payments (a much more common approach).

4. Is restitution the same thing as compensation under the California Victim Compensation Program?

Victim restitution is not the same thing as compensation under the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). The CalVCP is a state fund designed to provide compensation to victims of violent crimes for unreimbursed losses associated with those crimes.

The California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board administers CalVCP.

The fund is paid for in large part by restitution fines levied on all criminal defendants in amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000.12

CalVCP covers expenses related to physical injuries (as opposed to purely economic injuries). In certain cases, emotional injuries can be enough to qualify.

California Victim Compensation Program claims are often made in connection with such violent crimes as:

Are you in California and trying to collect restitution? Call us for help…

california personal injury lawyers
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know is interested in more information on Penal Codes 1214 PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 1214 PC. This code section states: “If the judgment is for a fine, including a restitution fine… the judgment may be enforced in the manner provided for the enforcement of money judgments generally.”

  2. See same.

  3. California Constitution Article 1, Section 28(e).

  4. California Penal Code 1202.4 PC.

  5. California Constitution Article 1, Section 28(b).

  6. People v. Brown (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 1213.

  7. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction 240 - CALCRIM 240.

  8. People v. Baumann (1985), 176 Cal.App.3d 67.

  9. California Penal Code 1203.1d(d) PC.

  10. People v. Gemelli (2008), 161 Cal.App.4th 1539.

  11. See California Penal Code 1202.4f1 PC.

  12. California Penal Code Section 1202.4b PC.

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