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  • In any criminal matter, the potential to be on the hook for payment of restitution is there. Restitution is, simply put, money paid by a defendant to a victim to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of the crime committed. In an adult criminal matter, only the defendant is possibly liable for restitution. In juvenile court, the juvenile defendant and his parents/guardians are potentially liable to make restitution payments.

    The Statute

    985.437 Restitution.

    (1) The court that has jurisdiction over an adjudicated delinquent child may, by an order stating the facts upon which a determination of a sanction and rehabilitative program was made at the disposition hearing, order the child to make restitution in the manner provided in this section. This order shall be part of the probation program to be implemented by the department or, in the case of a committed child, as part of the community-based sanctions ordered by the court at the disposition hearing or before the child’s release from commitment.
     
    (2) The court may order the child to make restitution in money, through a promissory note cosigned by the child’s parent or guardian, or in kind for any damage or loss caused by the child’s offense in a reasonable amount or manner to be determined by the court. When restitution is ordered by the court, the amount of restitution may not exceed an amount the child and the parent or guardian could reasonably be expected to pay or make.
     
    (3) The clerk of the circuit court shall be the receiving and dispensing agent. In such case, the court shall order the child or the child’s parent or guardian to pay to the office of the clerk of the circuit court an amount not to exceed the actual cost incurred by the clerk as a result of receiving and dispensing restitution payments. The clerk shall notify the court if restitution is not made, and the court shall take any further action that is necessary against the child or the child’s parent or guardian.
     
    (4) A finding by the court, after a hearing, that the parent or guardian has made diligent and good faith efforts to prevent the child from engaging in delinquent acts absolves the parent or guardian of liability for restitution under this section.
     
    (5) The court may retain jurisdiction over a child and the child’s parent or legal guardian whom the court has ordered to pay restitution until the restitution order is satisfied or until the court orders otherwise, as provided in s. 985.0301.

    How Much Will Be Owed?

    The court will require that restitution be paid in an amount to compensate for any damage or loss caused by the child’s offense in a reasonable amount or manner as determined by the court. For property loss, a court will generally consider the original purchase price, manner of use, general condition at time of loss, and depreciation. Expert testimony as to fair market value at the time of the loss can also aid in this determination. 

    Consideration of Ability to Pay

    Lastly, even if the court properly determines the amount of restitution from an economic loss to the victim standpoint, the court must still determine whether the child and parent(s) have the ability to pay the restitution amount. In adult court, consideration of ability to pay is only a defense during an enforcement proceeding, not a consideration in the determination of the amount owed. Furthermore, the burden is on the State to prove the ability to pay. M.P. v. State, 43 Fla. L. Weekly D2193a (Fla. 2d DCA 2018). 

    Call The Bantner Firm!

    As you can see, The Bantner Firm is well-qualified to handle your juvenile delinquency matter. You need someone on your side who can ensure that no more restitution is paid than is legally required. Call us today at 813.397.3965 for your free consultation!

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