I recently represented a Louisiana man charged with felony theft of oil field equipment. Because this type of equipment is very expensive and also readily available in the Lafayette Parish area, it is common theft item. The victim, the owner of the equipment, did not necessarily want to pursue criminal charges against the defendant — what he wanted was an apology and restitution. The restitution would be $16,000 — the approximate value of the stolen equipment.
Charges May Be Dropped if You Pay Back the Money
What is interesting about this case is that while the district attorney makes the ultimate decision about pursuing charges, if the victim receives immediate restitution and contacts the district attorney about dropping the charges — there is a good chance the charges will not be pursued. In this particular case, if my client pays the restitution, the charges could be dropped.
Assuming that no one was hurt and there is no serious property damage, it is worthwhile to consult with your criminal defense attorney about making arrangements for immediate restitution. Your attorney can find out how much is lost and talk with the district attorney about a possible future resolution. Of course, there is no guarantee that the charges will be dropped even if the defendant can pay the restitution and the victim is agreeable because the district attorney makes that decision. However, your really want to avoid a criminal conviction on your record and possible jail time, so it certainly worth having your criminal lawyer make inquiries.
Making Restitution Can Help You Even if Charges Are Not Dropped
If the charges are not dropped, making restitution is still a good idea. Paying back the victim will show that you are being responsible for your mistake and may encourage the judge to consider a lighter sentence. Additionally, restitution will be a condition of your probation, so since you will have to pay the money back anyway, you might as well do it when it can help you get a more favorable outcome.
Restitution and Louisiana Pre-Trial Diversion
If the charge is a non-violent offense like theft, fraud, forgery, damage to property or possession of stolen things and the Louisiana defendant has no prior criminal history, there is a possibility that he or she can enter the Louisiana pre trial diversion program. This program allows first time offenders the opportunity to avoid jail time and have the charge expunged from their record. The ability to enter this program is at the district attorney’s discretion, so making restitution could help persuade the D.A. to consider you for the program.
If you have any questions about restitution or pre trial diversion, please call my Louisiana law office at (337) 704-2615 for a free consultation.