Governor Perdue Signs Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005
|Monday, April 11, 2005||
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Legislation Makes Victim's Right to Restitution a Priority
ATLANTA – On the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse, Governor Sonny Perdue today signed the Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005 (HB172) into law. This legislation revises Georgia's restitution laws to reflect that victims' rights are a priority by significantly reducing the impediments to awarding and collecting restitution.
“The restitution principle should be much more than an ideal we rarely meet. It should be a reality that we routinely enforce for the benefit of crime victims in Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The Crime Victims Restitution Act of 2005 revises Georgia's restitution laws to recognize that victims' rights are a priority.”
HB172 requires that restitution is ordered to victims of crime and creates new tools to help ensure that victims receive the restitution owed them. This bill acknowledges that restitution is consistent with the goal of rehabilitation and as such, it holds juveniles, just as adult offenders, responsible for the financial impact of their crimes. The major provisions of HB172 include:
- Allows victims of crime in many cases to delay bringing a civil action against the perpetrator of a crime until the prosecution of the criminal case is complete.
- Requires the court to consider victim impact statements prior to sentencing or determining restitution.
- Makes restitution easier to collect by codifying a procedure that will allow the enforcement of restitution orders after the criminal sentence is complete.
- Restitution will be ordered even if a defendant is sentenced to prison for a period of straight time, life imprisonment, life without parole or even death penalty cases.
- Clarifies that individuals, businesses and other organizations are entitled to restitution.
- Whenever possible, juveniles that commit a crime must make restitution to their victims.
- The court is authorized, but not required, to make the parent or parents who have supervisory responsibility over the child to pay restitution to the victim where the court finds that the parent or parents knew or should have known of the juvenile's propensity to commit such acts and the acts are due to the parent's negligence or the parents' reckless disregard for the juvenile's propensity to commit such acts.
- In any case where the state, county or city is due restitution, the victim shall receive any restitution first.
- Makes restitution a priority by requiring that at least 50 percent of all payments by criminals be used to satisfy restitution to victims before any such payment can be used to satisfy other fines and/or fees.
- Requires that restitution be disbursed to victims in a timely manner.
- Allows the court to require an offender to assign his or her wages to pay restitution.
- Requires the clerk of court, probation or parole officers to review all restitution orders at least twice a year to ensure that restitution is being paid.
- Allows the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Board of Pardons and Parole to intercept tax refunds when there is an outstanding amount of restitution owed a crime victim. The Department of Corrections already has this authority.
Governor Perdue was joined for the bill signing by State Senator Bill Hamrick, Bob Keller, general counsel for the Prosecuting Attorney's Council and David McDade, district attorney for the Douglas Judicial Circuit. HB172 becomes effective July 1, 2005.