Restitution May Include Elements of Damages Not Recoverable In a Civil Action

In Weinstein v. State, 745 So. 2d 1085, 1086 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999), the Fourth District reversed for an evidentiary hearing on whether a settlement for the policy limits encompassed all the damages suffered as a result of a wrongful death. Id. at 1087. Although the restitution statute does not permit a double recovery of the same damages, the damages recoverable through restitution may include elements of damages not necessarily recoverable in a civil action, such as investigative expenses incurred to uncover the criminal activity. See Glaubius v. State, 688 So. 2d 913, 915 (Fla. 1997). Additionally, restitution ordered as part of a criminal sanction includes coercive elements not available in the enforcement of a civil judgment, see Vereen v. State, 703 So. 2d 1193, 1194 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997), and may also take into consideration the timing of repayment: A restitution award may take into consideration that the timing of repayment may cause the victim to suffer additional loss. A final judgment in a civil case speaks instantly; it fixes the amount due and compensates a plaintiff for a delay in payment by including an award of post-judgment interest. Although a restitution order may be enforced in the same manner as a civil judgment, recovery in this manner is unusual; restitution is more likely to occur when it is made a condition of a criminal sentence. J.K. v. State, 695 So. 2d 868, 869 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997). Thus, the award of restitution can include installment payments enforceable as a condition of probation--a remedy not available in a civil lawsuit. See State v. Hitchmon, 678 So. 2d 460, 462 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996). Civil damages and criminal restitution are distinct remedies, both of which are available to the victim regardless of whether an enforceable civil obligation exists prior to sentencing.