When many St. Louis residents hear of charges brought in federal court against a person, they may think of the incarceration that may potentially result from a conviction on those charges. While prison time is a very serious penalty that can apply to a conviction on various charges, including white collar crime, individuals may be less familiar with other penalties that may apply in a particular case.
In the realm of white collar crime, the government will often seek to obtain restitution for the charges, in addition to prison time. For instance, a 46-year-old man was recently indicted in Missouri federal court on bank fraud charges. The man is alleged to have taken more than $200,000 from an elderly person in a scheme involving the man's mother and two girlfriends. The charges carry a potential penalty of 30 years in prison, along with fines of $1 million and restitution for the elderly person.
Cases like the above illustrate how multiple penalties can be sought for a particular charge. Restitution is one such penalty which may be ordered by the court. An order of restitution requires a person to make payment to the victims of the crime, which is common in financial schemes where victims allegedly lose money to the defendant.
It is important to distinguish restitution from fines, which may also be ordered if a person is convicted. A fine is imposed as a punitive measure, and is paid to the government, whereas restitution is paid to the victims in order to provide compensation for the amounts they lost.
Ultimately, when a person is charged with a federal crime, it is essential that the person understand all potential penalties for the crime. This includes not only understanding what prison sentence could be imposed, but the fines and restitution as well, so that the individual may know what is at stake in the case and what potential plea bargains may be possible if the individual is interested in working out a deal.
Source: St. Louis Business Journal, "St. Louis County man indicted on bank fraud charges," Vince Brennan, Dec. 18, 2014