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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Fighting for Restitution for Assault Victim

March 18, 2014

An attorney with a Washington, D.C. area victim services organization contacted NCVLI for assistance with securing restitution for an assault victim. Pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant pled guilty to two counts of criminal contempt for violating a no contact order that was issued as a condition of pretrial release following an assault; in exchange, the government dropped one of the pending charges. Among other losses, the victim experienced lost wages due to her inability to work as a result of her injuries and intense anxiety from both the original assault and subsequent violation of the no contact order. Hoping to secure as much restitution as possible for the victim, the victim’s attorney contacted NCVLI for assistance. We researched the law and crafted arguments that criminal contempt is not a victimless crime and that restitution to the victim was proper. It was incredibly fortunate that this victim had an attorney because at the restitution hearing the prosecution joined defendant in opposing restitution for the victim!  Fortunately, the trial court concluded that the victim is entitled to restitution.  Without independent counsel this victim would have had to carry the entire financial burden of her own victimization!