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People v. Martinez.

No. 21CA0883. 2022 COA 142. Probation—Restitution—Payment Schedule—Good Cause for Probation Extension.

December 15, 2022

Martinez pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, and she was sentenced to four years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $150,553.07 in restitution. Martinez couldn’t pay the full restitution amount, so a collections investigator assessed her ability to pay and established a payment schedule under CRS § 16-18.5-104(4)(a)(I). The payment schedule initially required Martinez to pay $50 per month, which was later increased to $100 per month. Martinez made all required payments, but when her probationary period ended, her restitution balance had increased because her payments had not offset the accrued interest of 8% per year. Martinez’s probation officer filed a complaint to revoke her probation on the sole basis that she hadn’t yet paid the full restitution amount. The trial court extended Martinez’s probation for five years, unsupervised, conditioned solely on continued payment of restitution.

On appeal, Martinez argued that the trial court lacked authority to extend her probation under CRS § 16-18.5-105(3)(d)(III) because she made all payments under her payment schedule and the statutory procedures weren’t followed. When a defendant fails to make payments under a restitution payment schedule, CRS § 16-18.5-105(3)(d)(III) allows the court to extend the probation period upon a finding that the defendant failed to pay. However, this statute does not authorize a probation extension solely because restitution wasn’t fully paid when a defendant has made all required payments under a payment schedule established under CRS § 16-18.5-104(4)(a)(I). CRS § 16-18.5-105(3) also outlines the procedures for a collections investigator to follow when a defendant fails to make a scheduled payment within seven days of the due date. Here, Martinez hadn’t failed to make a scheduled payment at the time her probation period was extended, and there is no evidence that a collections investigator ever requested the court to issue a notice to show cause for any alleged failure to make a restitution payment within seven days of the due date. Therefore, CRS § 16-18.5-105(3)(d)(III) is inapplicable, and the trial court erroneously relied on that section to extend Martinez’s probation.

Martinez also argued that the trial court erred in extending her probation because good cause for the extension does not exist as required by CRS § 18-1.3-204(4)(a). Section 18-1.3-204(4)(a) allows a court to increase a probation term where, among other things, there is “good cause” to extend the term. Here, it is unrealistic to expect that Martinez would ever be able to pay off her entire restitution obligation under her current circumstances. Further, the statutory scheme allows for continued payments of restitution to victims after a defendant’s sentence is complete. Accordingly, Martinez’s case circumstances do not provide good cause to extend her probation, and the trial court erred.

The order extending Martinez’s probation was reversed and the case was remanded with directions to terminate Martinez’s probation.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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