Pros & Cons of Making A Restitution Payment Before Your Sentencing Hearing

One of the top questions we get from our federal prison consulting clients is, “Should I pay any criminal restitution before my sentencing?”

Conventional wisdom would say paying as much as possible can lead to a shorter sentence. In my case, it did.

I made a payment of $100,000 at my sentencing. I suspect the payment bought me three months out of federal prison—maybe six months. I am sticking with three months!

Restitution Payment Before Your Sentencing Hearing

Restitution Payment Before Your Sentencing Hearing

But making a payment does not always lead to a shorter federal prison sentence. Our team has seen cases where the white collar defendant gave every last penny to the court, only to see the defendant still get an upper to high end guideline sentence.


Well, in one instance, I heard a Judge tell a client’s co defendant who made a payment of $175K, “I recognize the payment but I do not recognize real remorse. I sense you made this payment to avoid prison not because it was the right thing to do. Your lawyer says otherwise, but I am not a buyer.”

The defendant’s guidelines were 34-41 months. The defendant got 40 months in federal prison at Lompoc Federal Prison Camp.

Clearly, each case is unique.

In my case, I regretted making the payment. I could have used the money to continue building my brand and business when I came home from federal prison. Since I did not have a wife or family (I was 33 years old), I could have done a few extra months.

For others who have a family, I know it may make sense to pay everything to get home sooner.

Our team can offer advice on the pros and cons of making a restitution payment before sentencing. To get the conversation started, check out a video we put up over the weekend:

Pros and Cons of Making A Restitution Payment Before Sentencing

In this video, I also discuss how the FLU (Financial Litigation Unit) seeks to collect restitution after federal prison. As you would expect, they can be aggressive. To give you an idea, FLU sued me (and added in additional penalties) two days after White Collar Advice was featured in the Washington Post. I talk about it in this video.

Feel free to call or email with questions. You can also schedule a call with me.


Justin Paperny

P.S. If you can keep your credit, keep it! I had little cash when I came home, but I had access to a lot of credit. I used it all, until my Judge essentially ripped up my credit cards in his court room. It was a humbling experience! I talk about in this video.