Retail Theft Restitution
Utah Criminal Law Attorneys
RETAIL THEFT RESTITUTION:
If you are convicted of Retail Theft, the court will order criminal restitution, meaning you will have to pay back what was illegally taken.
Utah’s criminal restitution statute can be found at Utah Code Ann. 77-38a-1 (2017). The essence of finding how much criminal restitution can be owned is finding the fair market value of the items taken. The court can hold an evidentiary hearing were the Utah Rules of Evidence apply to make findings and legal conclusions on how much the stolen items were worth and what the final restitution amounts will be.
One serious issue with criminal restitution is that if you don’t pay it off, or get an excusal from the judge, you will never be able to expunge this conviction under Utah’s expungement provisions. Criminal expungements are were the particular criminal conviction is completely wiped off your record and from the public records as if the criminal episode never existed or happened. The reason you can’t expunge a case where restitution was not paid is because you must successfully complete all terms of your probation in order to be a candidate for a Utah expungement. Failure to pay criminal restitution is a failure of your probationary terms.
A well versed criminal defense trial lawyer can really help you alleviate the amount of criminal restitution when you are facing a large restitution order. Fair market value can be hotly disputed between the defendant and the prosecuting attorney. Criminal restitution is a clear place where a good trial lawyer can make a difference for you.
CRIMINAL RESTITUTION IS NOT DISCHARGEABLE IN BANKRUPTCY.
All state and federal criminal restitution is not dischargeable in Federal Bankruptcy proceedings under the Federal Bankruptcy Code, 11 USC 523(19)(2017). No matter how many times you file Bankruptcy, you will never get rid of a criminal restitution order. This means the state or the private party can garnish your wages until the entire amount is paid. Your house can be liened upon with a criminal restitution judgment and your bank accounts can be executed upon. The only Utah State limitations on the debt collection activity upon a criminal restitution judgment is found in the Utah Exemptions Act, Utah Code Ann. 78B-5-505 (2017).
CIVIL LAWSUIT FOR THREE TIMES DAMAGES ON RETAIL THEFTS:
Utah law allows businesses to sue criminal defendants in the civil courts for treble, or three times, the value of the item stolen, plus attorney’s fees, interest and costs. The relevant statute reads:
“Any individual who violates Subsection 76-6-408(1) or Section 76-6-413, or commits theft of property described in Subsection 76-6-412(1)(b)(iii), is civilly liable for three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, and for costs of suit and reasonable attorney fees.”
Criminal defendants will often receive these letters from business owners or third party debt collectors attempting to collect treble damages under these statutory provisions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are convicted with retail theft and are obligated to pay restitution, contact the Utah criminal law attorneys to find out your options.