Restitution is court-ordered payment made typically as a condition of probation. Anybody who has been accused of damaging property, inflicting injury, or stealing money or valuables, can be ordered to repay the alleged victim(s) what is owed.
Restitution is part of a sentence, usually a probationary sentence. Restitution can also be made into a civil lien, called a criminal order of restitution. However, the most common form of restitution is a monthly payment determined by the court at sentencing that the accused pays. If the accused does not make their restitution payment, they face a probation violation.
Even if you are having financial problems and you cannot pay your restitution, despite your efforts, you can still find yourself facing a probation violation. If you go to hearing, you must prove to the court that you do not have the ability to pay. The court may see your inability to pay as an unwillingness to pay, and then you may be looking at a stiffer penalty, including state prison.
To avoid a probation violation based on failure to pay restitution, you may seek a modification of your restitution. This can be done by retaining the services of a criminal attorney to file a motion with the court requesting a reduction in the monthly amount that you must pay.
While you may not be able to reduce the overall restitution amount, you can very likely reduce the minimum monthly amount so that you can afford your payments and avoid a violation.