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S.124

Introduced by Senator McCormack of Windsor County, Senator Ankeney of Chittenden County, Senator Costes of Franklin County and Senator Crowley of Rutland County

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject: Crimes; judgment; sentence and execution; restitution

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to modify restitution procedures by allowing wage withholding from defendants who fail to pay restitution orders, and by precluding courts from considering the victim’s insurance coverage when determining restitution amounts. The bill also provides that a term of probation shall not expire until the defendant has complied with any restitution orders.

AN ACT RELATING TO RESTITUTION TO CRIME VICTIMS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 13 V.S.A. § 7043 is amended to read:

§ 7043. RESTITUTION

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(h) When determining the amount of restitution, the court shall not consider the existence or amount of any insurance policy held by the victim.

(i) If the defendant fails to comply with a restitution order within 30 days, the court may issue a wage withholding order directing the defendant’s employer to pay a portion of the defendant’s wages directly to the victim until the defendant’s restitution obligation is satisfied. The wages of the defendant shall be exempt as follows:

(1) to the extent provided under section 303(b) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1673(b)); or

(2) if the court finds that the weekly expenses reasonably incurred by the debtor for his or her maintenance and that of dependents exceed the amounts exempted by subdivision (1) of this subsection, such greater amount of earnings as the court shall order.

(j) Upon receipt of a wage withholding order from the court, an employer shall:

(1) withhold from the wages paid to the defendant the amount specified in the order for each wage period;

(2) forward the withheld wages to the court within seven working days after wages are withheld, specifying the date the wages were withheld;

(3) retain a record of all withheld wages;

(4) cease withholding wages upon notice from the court; and

(5) notify the court within 10 days of the date the defendant’s employment is terminated.

(k) In addition to the amounts withheld pursuant to this section, the employer may retain not more than $5.00 per month from the defendant’s wages as compensation for administrative costs incurred.

(l) Any employer who fails to withhold wages pursuant to a wage withholding order within 10 working days of receiving actual notice or upon the next payment of wages to the employee, whichever is later, shall be liable to the victim in the amount of the wages required to be withheld.

(m) An employer who makes an error in the amount of wages withheld shall not be held liable if the error was made in good faith.

(n) For purposes of this section, "wages" means any compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether designated as wages, salary, commission, bonuses or otherwise, and shall include periodic payments under pension or retirement programs and workers’ compensation or insurance policies of any type.

Sec. 2. 28 V.S.A. § 252(b)(6) is amended to read:

§ 252. CONDITIONS OF PROBATION

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(b) When imposing a sentence of probation, the court may, as a condition of probation, require that the offender:

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(6) Make restitution or reparation to the victim of his or her conduct, or to the victims’ compensation fund to the extent it has made payment to or on behalf of the victim in accordance with chapter 167 of Title 13, for the damage or injury which was sustained. When restitution or reparation is a condition of the sentence, the court, in accordance with section 7043 of Title 13, shall fix the amount thereof, which shall not exceed an amount the defendant can or will be able to pay, and shall fix the manner of performance;

Sec. 3. 28 V.S.A. § 255 is amended to read:

§ 255. DISCHARGE

(a) Upon the termination of the period of probation or the earlier discharge of the probationer in accordance with section 251 of this title, the probationer shall, except as provided herein, be relieved of any obligations imposed by the order of the court and shall have satisfied his sentence for the crime.

(b) When restitution or reparation to the victim has been ordered under subdivision 252(b)(6) of this title, the period of probation shall not terminate until the offender has complied with the order.