Summary: H.R.665 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (12/22/1995)


Title I: Restitution

Title II: Miscellaneous Provisions

Victims Justice Act of 1995 - Title I: Restitution - Amends the Federal criminal code to require the court to order restitution of the victim when a convicted defendant is being sentenced for specified offenses (see Sec. 103). Authorizes the court to order restitution in certain other cases. Makes specified procedures (see Sec. 105) applicable to all orders of restitution.

Requires the court to provide, as an explicit condition of a sentence of probation, that the defendant make restitution as ordered, pay the assessment imposed, and notify the court of any material change in his or her economic circumstances that might affect his or her ability to pay restitution, fines, or special assessments.

Repeals specified restrictions on the court's authority to order the making of restitution.

(Sec. 103) Directs the court to order, in addition to any other penalty authorized by law, that the defendant make restitution to the victim of the offense or, if the victim is deceased, to the victim's estate.

Defines "victim" as a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of an offense for which restitution may be ordered, including any person directly harmed by the defendant's criminal conduct in the course of an offense that involves a scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity. Permits a legal guardian or the representative of the victim's estate (other than the defendant), another family member, or any other person appointed as suitable by the court to assume the victim's rights in the case of a victim who is under age 18, incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) restitution to persons other than the victim; (2) the form and amount of restitution; and (3) plea agreements not resulting in a conviction.

Requires restitution in all sentencing proceedings for convictions of, or plea agreements relating to charges for, any offense: (1) that is a crime of violence, an offense against property (including fraud), or an offense relating to tampering with consumer products; or (2) in which an identifiable victim has suffered a physical injury or pecuniary loss. Makes exceptions where the number of identifiable victims is so large as to make restitution impracticable or where determining complex issues of fact or the amount of the victim's losses would create an excessive burden on the sentencing process.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes the court, when sentencing a defendant convicted of specified offenses under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), to order that the defendant make restitution to any victim of such offense. Specifies that a participant in an offense may not be considered a victim of the offense.

Specifies that, in determining whether to order restitution, the court: (1) shall consider the amount of the loss sustained by each victim as a result of the offense, the financial resources of the defendant, the financial needs and earning ability of the defendant and the defendant's dependents, and such other factors as the court deems appropriate; and (2) may decline to order restitution upon determining that the complication and prolongation of the sentencing process resulting from fashioning such an order outweighs the need to provide restitution to any victims.

Sets forth provisions regarding situations in which there is no identifiable victim. Directs that an order of restitution in such case be based on the amount of public harm caused by the offense. Limits the amount of such restitution ordered to the amount of the fine ordered for the offense charged in the case. Directs that such restitution be distributed as follows: 65 percent to the Victim Assistance Administration of the State in which the crime occurred and 35 percent to the State entity designated to receive Federal substance abuse block grant funds. Prohibits the court from making an award if it appears likely that such award would interfere with a civil or criminal forfeiture. Specifies that certain penalty assessments or fines shall take precedence over a restitution order. Directs that requests for community restitution be considered in all plea agreements negotiated by the United States. Requires the Commission to promulgate guidelines to assist courts in determining the amount of restitution that may be ordered. Prohibits any restitution from being ordered under this section until such time as the Commission promulgates its guidelines.

Makes conforming changes to the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and to telemarketing fraud provisions of the Federal criminal code.

(Sec. 105) Revises procedures for the issuance and enforcement of restitution orders. Directs the court to: (1) order the probation service of the court to obtain and include in its presentence report, or in a separate report, information sufficient for the court to exercise its discretion in fashioning a restitution order (which shall include a complete accounting of the losses to each victim, any restitution owed pursuant to a plea agreement, and information relating to the economic circumstances of each defendant); and (2) disclose to both the defendant and the attorney for the Government all portions of the report pertaining to such matters. Directs the probation service to inform the court if the number or identity of victims cannot be reasonably ascertained, or other circumstances exist that make such requirement impracticable.

Makes specified provisions of the Federal criminal code and Rule 32(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure the only rules applicable to proceedings for the issuance and enforcement of restitution orders.

Directs the attorney for the Government, within 60 days after conviction and not later than ten days prior to sentencing, to: (1) provide the probation service of the court with a listing of the amounts subject to restitution, after consulting with all identified victims; (2) provide notice to all such victims of the offenses of which the defendant was convicted, the listing of amounts subject to restitution, the victim's right to submit information concerning losses, and the scheduled date, time, and place of the sentencing hearing; (3) advise any victim that he or she may file a separate affidavit relating to his or her losses. Directs each defendant (within such time frame) to prepare and file with the probation service an affidavit fully describing the defendant's financial resources.

Authorizes the court, after reviewing the report of the probation service, to require additional documentation or hear testimony. Specifies that the privacy of any such records filed or testimony heard shall be maintained and such records may be filed or testimony heard in camera.

Directs the attorney for the Government to inform the court if the victim's losses are not ascertainable ten days prior to sentencing and the court shall set a date for the final determination of the victim's losses. Provides a victim who subsequently discovers further losses 60 days after discovery to petition the court for an amended restitution order (which order may be granted only upon a showing of good cause for the failure to include such losses in the initial claim for restitutionary relief).

Sets forth provisions regarding referral of any issue arising in connection with a proposed restitution order to a magistrate or special master.

Directs the court to order restitution to each victim in the full amount of each victim's losses as determined by the court without consideration of the defendant's economic circumstances.

Sets forth further requirements, including provisions regarding the form of payments, situations involving multiple defendants, a prohibition on considering the fact that a victim has received compensation with respect to a loss from insurance or any other source in determining the amount of restitution, notification of material changes in the defendant's economic circumstances, and such adjustment of the payment schedule as the interests of justice require.

Specifies that: (1) a defendant's conviction for an offense involving the act giving rise to a restitution order shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of that offense in any subsequent Federal civil proceeding or State civil proceeding, to the extent consistent with State law, brought by the victim; and (2) a restitution order may be enforced by the United States, as specified, or by a victim named in the order, in the same manner as a judgment in a civil action.

Requires a person obligated to provide restitution or pay a fine who receives substantial resources from any source, including inheritance, settlement, or other judgment, during a period of incarceration, to apply the value of such resources to any restitution or fine still owed.

(Sec. 106) Amends Rule 32(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to require that: (1) a presentence investigation and report, or other report containing information sufficient for the court to enter an order of restitution, be required in any case in which restitution is required to be ordered; and (2) a presentence report contain, in appropriate cases, information sufficient for the court to enter an order of restitution.

Adds restitution to existing provisions governing the imposition of a fine in Federal criminal cases. Directs the court to impose a fine or other monetary penalty only to the extent that such fine or penalty will not impair the ability of the defendant to make restitution required to a victim other than the United States. Sets forth provisions regarding payment schedules, notification to the court of material changes in the defendant's economic circumstances, and default on a restitution fine or payment.

Adds restitution provisions to provisions governing the post-sentence administration of fines, including collection. Makes it the responsibility of each victim to notify the Attorney General or the appropriate court entity of any change in the victim's mailing address while restitution is still owed. Directs that the confidentiality of any information relating to a victim be maintained. Sets priorities for the disbursement of money received from a defendant.

Authorizes the court, upon a finding that the defendant is in default on a payment of a fine or restitution, to revoke or modify the terms or conditions of probation or a term of supervised release, resentence a defendant, hold the defendant in contempt of court, enter a restraining order or injunction, order the sale of property of the defendant, accept a performance bond, enter or adjust a payment schedule, or take any other action necessary to obtain compliance with the order of a fine or restitution.

Allows any hearing arising out of such default to be conducted by a magistrate judge, subject to de novo review by the court. Requires that proceedings in which the participation of a defendant who is confined in a correctional facility is required or permitted be conducted by telephone, video conference, or other communications technology without removing the prisoner from the facility.

Prohibits incarcerating a defendant solely on the basis of inability to make payments because of indigency.

(Sec. 107) Directs the United States Sentencing Commission to amend or promulgate guidelines to reflect this Act and the amendments made by this Act.

(Sec. 108) Requires the Attorney General to amend or promulgate guidelines to carry out this Act and to ensure that: (1) in all plea agreements negotiated by the United States, consideration is given to requesting that the defendant provide full restitution to all the victims; and (2) restitution orders are enforced to the fullest extent of the law.

(Sec. 109) Doubles the special assessments on persons convicted of a felony in Federal cases.

Title II: Miscellaneous Provisions - Amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to: (1) prohibit payments to delinquent criminal debtors by State crime victim compensation programs; and (2) exclude victim assistance from income for purposes of determining eligibility for Federal benefits.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime to make supplemental grants to States: (1) to provide compensation and assistance to residents who, while outside the United States, are victims of a terrorist act or mass violence, subject to specified limitations; and (2) for eligible crime victim compensation and assistance programs to provide emergency relief for the benefit of victims of domestic terrorist acts or mass violence and to provide funding to U.S. Attorney's Offices for use in coordination with State efforts in providing emergency relief.

Sets forth or revises provisions regarding the funding of compensation and assistance to victims of terrorism, mass violence, and crime, the use of unobligated funds, and the base amount.

(Sec. 203) Sets forth provisions regarding the severability of this Act.

(Sec. 204) Directs: (1) the Attorney General, in cooperation with the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, to conduct a study of the funds paid out of the Crime Victims Fund and the impact that the amendments made by this Act have on sums available in the Fund; and (2) the Attorney General and the Director to report interim findings to the Chairman and ranking Member of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.