This is a common sentence when someone is convicted of a property crime like theft, fraud or mischief. For example, if someone is convicted of defrauding a bank of $5,000, they may be required to pay this money back to the bank as restitution. The restitution is either paid through the court or directly to the victim. In cases where the person convicted of the offence cannot pay off the fine immediately, the court may set up a payment plan that could last for many years.
It is rare for someone to be sentenced to restitution alone. Someone may be given probation, fines and jail time in addition to having to pay restitution. Serious financial crimes, for example, may involve jail time, large fines and a requirement to repay huge sums to the victims.
Unfortunately a criminal sentence involving a restitution order is not considered complete until the restitution is completely paid off. This means that someone must wait five years after they’ve paid any outstanding restitution before they can apply for a Pardon / Record Suspension for a summary offence. For an indictable offence they’ll have to wait ten years.