Restitution in the Criminal Justice System

Restitution is the part of a sentence given by a judge to pay back victims for their direct losses because of the crime. This can be for loss of property, loss of money, and medical and counseling bills. It cannot include payments for pain and suffering, loss of value, or interest payments. You may be able to file a civil lawsuit for those losses.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit
To file a civil lawsuit against the defendant or other responsible parties, you must call a civil attorney. You can use the Lancaster Bar Association’s lawyer referral service by calling 717-393-0737 between 9 a.m. and noon, or between 1 and 4 p.m. They can connect you to an attorney for a first visit for a fee. If you need a free attorney, please call Mid-Penn Legal Services at 717-299-0971 to see if you qualify.

Restitution Advocates
Victim / Witness Services restitution advocates prepare a worksheet for the judge to use to order restitution. We ask to have the money paid to you for your out-of-pocket expenses, bills you have paid, bills you owe, and insurance deductibles. We also ask to have the money paid to your insurance company or other benefit plan that has paid your bills or has paid you for your losses. You must tell us about the money that you think should be paid back.

To get started, download a Restitution Claim Form. Please fill in this form and mail it to:
Victim / Witness Services
50. N. Duke St.
Lancaster, PA 17608

You can also fax the form to 717-209-3164. If you have questions, please call Victim / Witness Services at 717-299-8048 to speak to a restitution advocate.

How Restitution is Paid
At sentencing, the judge will order the amount of restitution to be paid as part of the sentence. This is based on the information we received from you. The money is collected by the Collections Enforcement Unit of Adult Probation and Parole Services.

Once a month, the Clerk of Courts office mails checks for the money that was received from the defendant in the previous month. When the defendant pays, the first $60 is used to pay court costs. All of the money that is paid after the first $60 is used to pay restitution until it is completely paid off. After restitution is paid, the payments pay fines and court costs.

Additional Information
If your name or address changes, you must call Victim / Witness Services at 717-299-8048. If you have questions about the amount of restitution ordered, please call Victim / Witness Services to speak to a restitution advocate. If you have questions about the collection of restitution, call Juvenile Probation at 717-299-8016.