The Timeliness of a Restitution Order

State v. Poole – Restitution is Statutory

Restitution orders must be entered within one year of sentencing
When damages are caused during the commission of a crime the law can order the defendant to pay restitution to the victims.

Utah law allows for victims of crimes to receive restitution, that is, compensation for their pecuniary loss. In State v. Poole, the Utah Court of Appeals addressed the issue of when a restitution request is timely. Poole drove his friend to a location where his friend caused several thousands of dollars worth of damage. Poole entered into a plea agreement with the state whereby he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and as part of the plea he agreed to be joint and severally liable for the damages caused, that is, restitution.

When Poole was sentenced the amount of restitution was unknown so the trial court held open the issue of restitution for the one year permitted by the Crime Victims Restitution Act, but also ordered the state to file its request for restitution within 90 days. The state never filed the request. Poole ended up violating probation and was sentenced to jail where he completed an addiction program and upon completion he was released from custody and his case was closed, approximately nine months after he was originally sentenced.

About a month before the one year period had run for requesting restitution the state filed its request. Poole objected on the grounds that his case was closed and the court no longer had jurisdiction over the issue. The district court found that it had jurisdiction because the state made its request within the one year time. period. The court, however, did not enter a final restitution order until several months after the one year time period passed.

The Appeal

On appeal the court rejected Poole’s argument that the court did not have jurisdiction after he was released from jail and finished the addiction program because the court did not make that explicitly clear in its orders.

The appellate court did, however, find persuasive Poole’s argument that the restitution order had to be entered within the one year time period with a sum certain for payback. The statute states that “the court…shall make all restitution orders at the time of sentencing if feasible, otherwise within one year after sentencing.” Utah Code 77-38a-302(5)(d)-(e). The court interpreted the “shall” language to mean “mandatory” and since the order in Poole’s case was not made until several months after the one year time period the court found that the restitution order was illegal.

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