Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Supreme Court Gives Federal Judges Leeway On Restitution Orders

The United States Supreme Court has issued a decision which resolves a split among Circuit Courts.  The decision involves the imposition of restitution in federal criminal cases.  Federal law provides for a 90 day time limit after a conviction for the court to impose restitution.    Brian Dolan had pleaded guilty to a federal charge of assault in 2007.  He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and 3 years of parole.  Restitution was mandatory but the judge left the amount of the restitution open because he did not have sufficient evidence to determine what the amount should be.  Two months after the sentencing hearing, the Probation Office provided the information to the judge, but only 3 weeks before the expiration of the 90 statutory requirement.  Upon receiving the information from the Probation Office, the judge set a hearing on restitution 4 months later.  At the hearing Dolan's attorneys argued that the 90 day time limit had expired, but the judge rejected the argument.  A month after the hearing, the judge imposed $105,000 in restitution.  By the time the order was entered, Dolan had been released from prison.  

The majority adopted a flexible view of the statute and held that as long as the judge made it clear that restitution would be part of the sentence, the court could take longer than 90 days to impose the amount of the restitution.  The dissent argued that the court should look at the clear intent of Congress and should not impose its interpretation of the statute.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.thelegaldefenders.com or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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