Handcuff outlining the word Crime Murphy, Campbell, Alliston & Quinn

Recognizing the Victim in Criminal Restitution

Although the right to restitution is prescribed by law under the California Constitution and codified in the United States Code, all crime victims who would be entitled to obtain restitution are not automatically identified and awarded restitution orders. In practice, all potential victims may not be known to the prosecution and the court at the time of sentencing. Some crimes may also be misperceived as victimless crimes particularly where the victim is not a person but an entity. For instance, where the defendant is prosecuted for the crime of manufacturing and selling drugs, the court at the time of sentencing may not know of any victims arising from the criminal activity. However, if the offender operated the drug grow site by diverting resources such as water or electricity, both under state and federal law the utility entity may be considered a victim and may be entitled to restitution for the losses sustained and arising from the operation. The California Constitution broadly states that all crime victims who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity have a right to receive restitution. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 28(b).) Restitution is also available in federal court pursuant to section 3663A(a)(1) of title 18 of the United States Code, requiring that the defendant make restitution to the victims.…