Penal Code Section 155.5 – Disposal of Property to Avoid Criminal Restitution Payments1

Penal Code Section 155.5 criminalizes certain attempts by criminal defendants to shield their assets from court-ordered restitution payments.

Penal Code Section 155.5(a) – Misdemeanor Punishment for Specified Acts of Concealment

Under Penal Code Section 155.5(a), the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. A defendant is ordered to pay a fine or restitution in connection with the commission of a misdemeanor; AND
  2. After a plea; OR after judgment and prior to sentencing; OR during the period that a restitution fine or order remains unsatisified and enforceable, does any of the following:
    1. Sells, conveys, assigns or conceals his or her property with the intent to lessen or impair his or her financial ability to pay in full any fine or restitution which he or she may lawfully be ordered to pay, OR
    2. Sells, conveys assigns or conceals his or her property with the intent to avoid asset forfeiture in a manner allowable by law.2

Penal Code Section 155.5(b) – Felony Punishment for Specified Acts of Concealment

Under Penal Code Section 155.5(b), the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. A defendant was ordered to pay any fine or restitution in connection with a felony, AND
  2. After the plea OR judgment and prior to sentencing for the same felony offense, OR during the period that a restitution order remains unsatisified and enforceable does any of the following:
    1. Sells, conveys, assigns, or conceals his or her property with the intent to lessen or impair his or her financing ability to pay in full any fine or restitution which he or she may lawfully be ordered to pay, OR
    2. Sells, conveys, assigns or conceals his or her property to avoid assest forfeiture in a manner afforded by law.3

Commentary:

Penal Code Section 155.5(a) and (b) is a seldom used statute in the author’s experience.  However, the statute has far reaching implications for any criminal defendant who attempts to hide or conceal assets from court-ordered restitution following a conviction and while still on probation.

Sources Cited / Notes:
1 Article first published May 2, 2018.  The content of this article is for information purposes only.  You should contact a competent attorney of your choosing if you are suspected or charged with committing any criminal offense.
2 Penal Code Section 155(a). See also 2 Witkin, Cal. Crim. Law 4th Crimes–Property § 253 (2012).
3 Penal Code Section 155(b)

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