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People v. Weeks.

2021 CO 75. No. 20SC340. Restitution—CRS § 18-1.3-603—Statutory Interpretation—Procedural Deadlines—“Good Cause” to Extend Trial Court’s Deadline—“Extenuating Circumstances” to Extend Prosecution’s Deadline.

November 8, 2021


The Supreme Court interpreted the restitution statute, CRS § 18-1.3-603, and concluded that the deadline in subsection (l)(b) refers to the trial court’s determination of the restitution amount the defendant must pay, not to the prosecution’s determination of the proposed amount of restitution. This deadline may be extended only if, before the deadline expires, the court expressly finds good cause for doing so.

The prosecution is subject to a statutory deadline as well. Under subsection (2), it must file the “information” in support of a motion for restitution (i.e., the amount of the proposed restitution) before the judgment of conviction or, if that information isn’t yet available, no later than 91 days after the judgment of conviction. The court may extend this deadline only if, before the deadline expires, it expressly finds that there are extenuating circumstances affecting the prosecution’s ability to determine the proposed amount of restitution.

It follows that neither a request for more time to determine the proposed amount of restitution nor an order granting such a request justifies extending the prosecution’s deadline in subsection (2) or the court’s deadline in subsection (1)(b). Rather, each deadline requires an express finding—one relating to extenuating circumstances affecting the prosecution’s ability to determine the proposed amount of restitution and the other relating to good cause for extending the court’s deadline to determine the amount of restitution the defendant must pay. It also follows that neither a belated request for more time to determine the proposed restitution amount nor an order granting such a request may act as a defibrillator to resuscitate an expired deadline.

At a sentencing hearing, a trial court must be mindful that it must enter one or more of the four types of restitution orders listed in subsection (1). Reserving the issue of restitution in its entirety until a later date isn’t one of them. Nowhere does the restitution statute permit the prosecution to ask that the issue of restitution (not just the restitution amount) remain open for any period of time after the judgment of conviction enters. Nor does any part of subsection (1) authorize the court to address the restitution issue in a judgment of conviction by entering an order deferring that issue in its entirety. Subsection (1)(b) allows the court to shelve the determination of the amount of restitution after entering a preliminary order requiring restitution.

Here, the trial court determined the amount of restitution almost a year after the judgment of conviction and long after the 91-day deadline in subsection (1)(b) expired. And it did so without making an express and timely finding of good cause for extending that deadline. Neither the prosecutor’s request to have the restitution issue (in its entirety) remain open for 91 days nor the court’s decision to grant that request could justify extending the court’s deadline to determine the restitution amount under subsection (1)(b). Accordingly, the Court of Appeals correctly concluded that by the time the trial court ordered defendant to pay restitution, it lacked authority to do so.

Because the Court of Appeals read CRS § 18-1.3-603 in general harmony with the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the judgment was affirmed. The matter was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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