Garnishment of Criminals Retirement Funds Permitted Under MVRA

In a 2007 case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Novak, 476 F.3d 1041, the court held that the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 (MVRA) permits criminal restitution orders to be enfoced by garnishing retirement funds.  The only funds that can be used, however, are those where the defendant has a current, unilateral right to receive payments under the terms of the retirement plan.

The court held that the anti-alienation provisions of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)(1), do not prevent the garnishment of funds permitted by the MVRA.

The relevant provision of the MVRA reviewed by the court was 18 U.S.C. § 3613.