Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Joseph: No Restitution Offset for Forfeiture Amount

In U.S. v. Joseph, No. 13-12369 (Feb. 21, 2014), the Court held that a defendant is not entitled to offset the amount of restitution owed to a victim by the value of property forfeited to the government. The Court explained that restitution and forfeiture serve distinct purposes. Consequently, a district court has not authority to offset the restitution amount by a forfeiture amount. The Court pointed out that the recipient of the forfeiture – the Department of Justice – and the victim entitled to forfeiture – the IRS – were different entities. The Court noted that the district court had directed an offset in its oral pronouncement of sentence. But Joseph could not avail himself of the rule that an oral pronouncement of sentence trumps a subsequent written judgment (in which the court declined to offset the forfeiture amount), because the district court was without authority to order the offset.