Limitation for Criminal Restitution Relocating Costs – Penal Code 1202.4

February 25, 2024

For victims of crimes in California, the aftermath often extends beyond the immediate emotional and physical toll to include significant changes in their living circumstances. In many instances, victims feel compelled to move away from their current residences for safety, and peace of mind, or to escape the vicinity of the offender. While California law acknowledges the financial strain this can impose on victims, by potentially allowing the restitution of relocating costs by convicted defendants, it sets specific conditions under which such claims can be made. This article delves into the nuances of claiming restitution for moving expenses, rent, and rental deposits, highlighting the critical role of law enforcement or mental health provider verification in this process.

The Basis for Restitution Claims

Upon the conviction of a defendant, the court may order them to reimburse the victim for various expenses incurred as a direct result of the crime. This can include medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages, and indeed, moving expenses. The intent behind such restitution is to alleviate the financial burden on the victim, allowing them to recover and rebuild their lives with a sense of security. However, when it comes to move-away costs, California law imposes a crucial prerequisite.

The Legal Requirement for Law Enforcement Authorization

Under Penal Code 1202.4(f)(3)(I), the law is explicit: for an adult victim’s relocation expenses to be claimable under criminal restitution, they must be verified by law enforcement to be “necessary for the personal safety of the victim” or deemed necessary by a mental health treatment provider. This provision ensures that claims for moving expenses are not only legitimate but also essential for the well-being and safety of the victim. It places a significant emphasis on the assessment of law enforcement or mental health professionals in determining the necessity of the relocation.

From a defendant’s perspective, the law provides a safeguard against potentially unfounded claims for relocation expenses. By requiring law enforcement or mental health professional verification, the statute ensures that such restitution claims are grounded in a tangible necessity related to the victim’s safety or mental health. For criminal defense attorneys, understanding this provision is crucial in advising clients on the scope of restitution they may be ordered to pay and in challenging claims for relocation expenses that do not meet the legal criteria.

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Victims seeking restitution for move-away costs must be mindful of the legal prerequisites and ensure they obtain the required verification from law enforcement or a mental health treatment provider. Similarly, defendants and their legal representatives must be prepared to scrutinize such claims, ensuring they adhere to the stipulations set forth by Penal Code 1202.4(f)(3)(I).

In conclusion, while California law acknowledges the significant impact of crime on victims, including the potential need to relocate, it also establishes specific criteria to govern the restitution process for move-away costs. For both victims and defendants, understanding these legal nuances is paramount in navigating the restitution claims process effectively.

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