Frequently Asked Questions
Offender Restitution Information
Guide to Restitution
Reports & Collection Efforts
Q. What is restitution?
A. When the court orders an offender to pay restitution, it is ordering them to pay back the damage caused, both to the state and to the victim(s). The court orders restitution in all cases and does not consider the offender's ability (or inability) to pay when the order is made.
Q. When is restitution ordered by the courts?
A. The court orders restitution as part of the sentencing. In fact, the restitution order is read aloud in court along with the sentence to prison.
Q. Are there different types of restitution?
There are three different types of restitution: restitution fines, parole revocation fines, and direct orders. The court can order all three types of restitution in the same case. If the offender is found guilty in multiple cases, the court can order all three types of restitution in each case.
Q. What is a restitution fine?
A. Restitution fines are the offender's "debt to society." These fines are how offenders pay back the state for the crime they committed. Restitution fines are paid to the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board and are ordered in amounts ranging from $300-$10,000 (see California Penal Code §1202.4).
Q. What is a parole revocation fine?
A. At the time of sentencing, the judge may also order a parole revocation fine, which means the amount of the offender's restitution fine will be doubled if they violate parole and their parole is revoked (see Penal Code §1202.45).
Q. What is a direct order?
A. The court orders a direct order of restitution to pay back the victim(s) of the crime. The amount of the direct order is based on the amount of the loss each victim suffered as a result of the crime. There is no maximum amount a judge can order for this type of restitution. This type of restitution goes directly to the victim.
Q. What is the Victim's Compensation Government Claims Board?
A. The Victim's Compensation and Government Claims Board is a state agency that exists to serve victims of crime. Their Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) provides assistance, financially, to victims of violent crime. It is not part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Q. Why does the Victim's Compensation Government Claims Board collect fine money?
A. The Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board collects fine money to aid victims of violent crimes. The money collected by the Board usually goes directly to the people and organizations helping victims, for example, dentists, psychologists, domestic violence centers, and funeral homes.
Q. How is restitution collected while I am in prison?
A. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) automatically collects 50 percent of prison wages or other money deposited into your trust account to pay your restitution. The CDCR will always collect money to pay direct orders before collecting money to pay for restitution fines.
Q. Can I make voluntary payments on my restitution?
A. You can send voluntary payments on your restitution to the accounting trust office at the institution where you are housed. Exact procedures vary between institutions. For more information you can talk to your Correctional Counselor.
Q. What is the 10% administrative fee?
A. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation keeps 10 percent of all restitution payments as the Administrative Fee (see Penal Code § 2085.5) to pay for the cost of collecting and distributing the payments. Voluntary payments made on behalf of inmates are exempt from the fee.
Q. How do I keep track of the restitution I owe while I am in prison?
A. Your institution may provide you with a copy of your restitution balance on a monthly basis. Direct any specific questions about your restitution to your Correctional Counselor.
Q. How is my direct order restitution collected once I leave prison?
A. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will refer your direct order restitution debt to the California Franchise Tax Board for collection once you are released from prison. You must make arrangements with the Franchise Tax Board from that point forward to satisfy your direct order restitution.
Q. How are my restitution fines collected once I leave prison?
A. While on parole, you may voluntarily send payments to:
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Trust Accounting Office
P.O. Box 276088
Sacramento, CA 95827
Clearly mark your name and CDC number on the check or money order and make it payable to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Upon discharge from parole any unpaid restitution fines and parole revocation fines will also be referred to the Franchise Tax Board for collection.
Q. How do I keep track of the restitution I owe while on parole?
A. Your parole agent can provide you with copies of your restitution balance and respond to specific questions about your restitution.
Q. Can I transfer my parole to another state if I owe restitution?
A. You must pay off your restitution in full to transfer your parole to another state. Once you pay off your restitution, your parole agent will request a receipt showing a zero balance to submit with your transfer request.
Q. Can I be discharged from parole early if I owe restitution?
A. You must make reasonable payments on your restitution while on parole to receive favorable consideration for early release. Payment of restitution is part of a successful parole.
Q. What happens if I don't pay my restitution?
A. Restitution never goes away. Even if you declare bankruptcy you will still owe restitution [see Federal Statute 11USC §523 (a) (7]. All unpaid restitution will eventually be referred to the Franchise Tax Board for collection after you are released from prison.
For more information on Franchise Tax Board collections: