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People V Moore Restitution While Incarcerated

People v. Moore
Supreme Court of Arizona
April 1, 1988

Holding: A trial court has the authority to order the defendant to commence paying restitution and fines even if the defendant has been incarcerated.

Why This Case is Important: In Arizona, restitution fines serve a dual purpose: to make the injured party whole and to add to the rehabilitation of the defendant. Generally, the court will determine the amount of the fine, and the fine will be ordered concurrently with the defendant’s sentence.

A trial court will assess the manner in which the defendant will pay the fine according to his economic circumstances. This case establishes that a trial court, in assessing a defendant’s circumstances, has the authority to order the defendant to pay compensation during the incarceration period. Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-603(C) states that a prisoner who is engaged in hard labor that has been ordered to pay restitution fines will be required to provide part of his compensation for the court ordered restitution. As a result, a trial court has the discretion of ordering a defendant to pay restitution during the incarceration period.

Facts of This Case: The defendant in this case pleaded guilty to three counts of kidnapping, two dangerous felonies, and one count of first-degree murder. The defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment and was ordered to pay $2,554 in restitution. The trial court ordered the compensation to be paid during the defendant’s incarceration. The defendant appealed on the grounds that the trial court exceeded its authority in ordering restitution payments during the incarceration period.

The Supreme Court of Arizona affirmed the trial court’s decision to order the payment of restitution during the defendant’s period of incarceration. Citing Arizona statutory law, the Supreme Court of Arizona determined that the trial court had the authority to order that compensation be paid from the earnings of the defendant’s labor while incarcerated. The Arizona Supreme Court stated that the trial court appropriately considered the defendant’s circumstances and did not abuse it discretion in determining the manner of how the restitution would be paid.

As a result, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and the defendant’s sentence.

Key Language: Under A.R.S. section 13-603(c), the court is required to consider the defendant’s economic circumstances in determining the manner of payment […] It is clear from the legislature’s enactment of A.R.S. section 31-254(D) and related restitution statutes that the court has jurisdiction to order payment as it did.

Expert Advise: “Restitution is a way to rehabilitate the defendant as much as it is to compensate the victim. Arizona statutes give the court plenary authority to assess the appropriate fine and determine how the fine should be paid. It is important for a defendant to abide by these requirements in order to prove that he is rehabilitated, which will make it more likely for a court to order early termination or set aside a conviction.” -Attorney Mathew Higbee.

To read about more cases that help to define expungement and record clearing relief laws click here.

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