Last month, the Supreme Court ruled on the issue of criminal restitution. Until that point, federal law had required that judges decide restitution in criminal cases within ninety days of sentencing. But on June 14, they ruled that judges may order restitution payments after the ninety days have expired provided they state beforehand that they plan to order restitution.
The court was split 5 to 4 in this decision. Interestingly, this ruling had traditionally conservative and liberal judges voting on the same side.
The issue of criminal restitution and the ninety day limit emerged after Brian Dolan pleaded guilty to federal charges of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The judge sentenced him to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release, but said he had insufficient information to order full restitution at the time of sentencing. (Restitution was mandatory in Dolan’s case.)
The judge ordered Dolan to pay the victim over $100,000 in restitution, but the order was issued after ninety days had elapsed. The Tenth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the restitution order.
Source: Supreme Court: judges have leeway on criminal restitution deadline, The Christian Science Monitor, June 14, 2010
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