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Pennsylvania grapples with criminal restitution

If you are found guilty of a crime in Pennsylvania, you may be ordered by the court to pay financial restitution to the victim of the crime or to the state. However, the financial situation of some offenders, coupled with the fact that many of them spend time in prison, can make restitution orders difficult to enforce, meaning some of that money does not get collected or distributed to victims.

The Restitution in Pennsylvania Task Force was created to address this issue and they recently released their final report, which contained a list of ideas and recommendations to help the state government order, enforce and collect restitution more efficiently.

Those recommendations include collecting restitution from an offender's wages, tax refunds or lottery winnings. The task force also suggested increasing the amount that the state can take from an inmate's account to be put toward restitution.

Being ordered to pay thousands of dollars or more in restitution is just one potential consequence of a criminal conviction in Pennsylvania. You may also face prison time, fines, probation or community service. In addition, a criminal record can follow you for years or even for the rest of your life. This can make it difficult to secure employment and can also affect your daily life and personal relationships.

If you are facing accusations of charges of criminal conduct, it is important to act quickly to make sure your rights are being protected and your interests are being preserved by someone on your side. Consider speaking with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she can work with you closely to assess the charges against you, build a defense and help you tell your side of the story, whether in or out of court.

Source: The Pennsylvania Independent, "Criminals owe billions to victims, state and courts, report says," Melissa Daniels, Feb. 15, 2013

To learn more about matters of criminal defense and justice in Pennsylvania, please take a look at our website.

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