FINANCIAL REIMBURSEMENT (RESTITUTION)
Idaho has passed statutes that allow criminal courts to order defendants to reimburse victims of crime for the damages caused by their criminal actions. The idea behind this statutory scheme is to provide a quicker and less expensive method for victims to obtain financial reimbursement than going through the civil system. There is no guarantee that a court will order the defendant to reimburse the victim through the criminal case; however, this is done in a great majority of cases.
The laws regarding the compensation of victims of crime are set out in Title 19, Chapter 53 of the Idaho Code.
The primary statute governing when and what courts may order the defendant to pay for in a criminal proceeding are set forth in Idaho Code Section 19-5304. That statute defines the people or entities that qualify to apply for reimbursement through the criminal system. It also sets out the types of damages for which restitution can be ordered and the procedural requirements for handling restitution requests. The types of loss that are reimbursable "includes, but is not limited to, the value of property taken, destroyed, broken, or otherwise harmed, lost wages, and direct out-of-pocket losses or expenses, such as medical expenses resulting from the criminal conduct, but does not include less tangible damage such as pain and suffering, wrongful death or emotional distress." Although the victim rights statute does not allow a criminal court to order restitution for such things as pain and suffering, victims have the right to seek these types of damages in civil court.
COLLECTION OF RESTITUTION
Idaho Code Section 19-5305 provides that an order of restitution may be recorded as a judgment and the victim may execute as provided by law for civil judgments after forty-two (42) days from the entry of the order of restitution or at the conclusion of a hearing to reconsider an order of restitution, whichever occurs later. Once the order has become final the victim is allowed to use the civil laws to collect the judgment, including executing against the defendant's property to satisfy the judgment or to garnish the defendant's wages. These are actions the victims must take themselves. Any questions regarding how to go about these collection efforts should be referred to a private attorney.
Defendants are frequently required to make regular payments on restitution as a condition of probation. The defendant's probation officer will monitor these payments.
HOW VICTIMS RECEIVE THEIR REIMBURSEMENT
Defendants pay their restitution through the clerk of the court. This allows the court to track whether or not payments have been made and, if so, in what amounts. Each time the defendant pays an amount towards their restitution; the clerk of the court records the payment and sends a check to the victim for the amount that was paid.
Often in cases of large sums of restitution, the defendant does not have the means to pay the restitution all at once. Therefore, payments are frequently paid in smaller amounts over a period of time. This is a common source of frustration for victims; however, given the poor financial state of many criminal defendants, this repayment process will remain an unfortunate reality for many victims.
IDAHO CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION PROGRAM
Idaho has created a fund to assist victims of crime with financial hardships brought about as a result of criminal acts. You can learn more about this program on the Crime Victims Compensation Program page of this web site.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT ASSISTANCE RESOURCES
You can obtain specialized information about domestic violence on the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services page of this web site.
INFORMATION ON OFFENDERS
The Idaho Department of Correction has instituted a crime victim’s notification service, known as the VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) program. VINE is a toll-free, 24-hour telephone hotline. Users can call anonymously for offender custody status updates and register for automatic notification. The Idaho Commission of Pardons & Parole is a partner in the VINE project so VINE offers parole and probation information, including parole hearing, case expiration and parole eligibility dates.
Victims may call the IDOC's VINE Line at 1-866-9-VINE-ID. Information about the location and parole eligibility of offenders sentenced to the Idaho Department of Correction can be obtained on the IDOC's Offender Search Page.
ADDITIONAL VICTIM RESOURCES
The Idaho Council on Domestic Violence & Victim Assistance provides assistance to victims and to victim advocates. They have a wealth of information on their web site.
The National Center for Victims of Crime has useful information on a variety of topics.
The Violence Against Women Office of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, has many resources for victims, victim advocates, attorneys and other persons involved in addressing domestic violence.
The National District Attorneys Association has information to assist prosecutors and victim advocates, including research, technical assistance, and publications.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has information on dealing with domestic violence and resources for assisting victims of domestic violence.
National Victim Center - 1-(800)-FYI-CALL
The National Organization For Victim Assistance is a national clearinghouse for victim assistance information and resources.
Victim Assistance Online International has a victim/witness resource clearinghouse with links to local, national and international resources.
INFORMATION REGARDING CONVICTED FELONY OFFENDERS
The Idaho Department of Correction has an Offender Data Base Search link which makes information about felony offenders, such as location and parole dates, available to the general public.