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People v. Belibi

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

April 9, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner,
v.
Franck Armand Belibi, Respondent

          Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Court Case No. 14CA1239

          Attorneys for Petitioner: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General John T. Lee, Assistant Attorney General.

          Attorneys for Respondent: Albani Law, LLC Peter B. Albani. Law Offices of M. Colin Bresee M. Colin Bresee.

          OPINION

          COATS, JUSTICE.

         ¶1 The People petitioned for review of the court of appeals' judgment reversing the amended restitution order of the district court, which substantially increased Belibi's restitution obligation after his judgment of conviction. See People v. Belibi, No. 14CA1239 (Colo.App. May 14, 2015). Following the acceptance of Belibi's guilty plea, the imposition of a sentence to probation, including a stipulation to $4, 728 restitution, and the entry of judgment, the district court amended its restitution order to require the payment of an additional $302, 022 in restitution. The court of appeals held that in the absence of anything in the court's written or oral pronouncements reserving a final determination of the amount of restitution, the initial restitution order had become final and could not be amended.

         ¶2 Because a judgment of conviction, absent a statutorily authorized order reserving a determination of the final amount of restitution due, finalizes any specific amount already set, the sentencing court lacked the power to increase restitution beyond the previously set amount of $4, 728. The judgment of the court of appeals is therefore affirmed.

         I.

         ¶3 Franck Belibi was charged with a number of felony and misdemeanor counts following an incident in which he struck and killed a pedestrian with his car. He ultimately entered into a plea arrangement, in which he agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempt to influence a public servant and to pay $4, 728 to the Victim's Compensation Fund to offset payments made for the decedent's burial expenses. The court accepted the defendant's guilty plea and on April 19, 2013, sentenced him to five years of probation, with a condition of that probation being that he pay $4, 728 in restitution to the Victim's Compensation Fund. The court did not enter any other restitution order reserving the possibility that restitution might later be increased.

         ¶4 Fifty-eight days later, Safeco Insurance Company filed a claim for restitution, asserting that it was obligated by an insurance contract to pay the decedent's mother $300, 000 in death benefits and $5, 000 in medical and funeral costs, and it was therefore entitled to restitution as a victim of the crime. The district court ruled that Safeco was an additional victim not known to the court at the time the restitution order was set, and it increased the amount of restitution owed by the defendant by $302, 022 to cover Safeco's losses. The defendant did not object to the increase at that time, but about five months later he filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to C.R.C.P. 60, asserting that he had only recently received notice of the amended order. The district court denied his motion on its merits, and he appealed to the court of appeals.

         ¶5 On appeal, the intermediate appellate court vacated the amended restitution order and directed the district court to reenter its initial order for $4, 728, reasoning that the initial order was final where neither the mittimus finalizing the defendant's judgment of conviction nor the court's written or oral pronouncements indicated anything to the contrary. Because the statute includes a provision to the effect that the amount of restitution may not be increased once the final amount of restitution has been set, it found that the district court was barred from issuing its amended restitution order.

         ¶6 The People petitioned for a writ of certiorari.

         II.

         ¶7 Orders for restitution in criminal prosecutions in this jurisdiction are governed by statute and rule. See §§ 18-1.3-601 to -603, C.R.S. (2017); Crim. P. 32. As we described more fully in Meza v. People, 2018 CO 23, P.3d, also reported today by this court, the current statutory scheme permits a criminal court, under certain circumstances, to order a defendant obligated to pay restitution and yet order that the specific amount of restitution be set within ninety-one days, or to order the defendant to pay restitution covering the cost of specific future treatment of any victim, in addition to or in place of ordering a specific amount of restitution at sentencing. See § 18-1.3-603(1)(b), (c); see also Sanoff v. People, 187 P.3d 576, 577-78 (Colo. 2008) (describing the pre-2000 requirement to order an amount of restitution and place it on the mittimus). The current statutory scheme also permits the criminal court to order an increase in restitution, but only for victims or losses not known at the time of sentencing and, even then, only if the "final amount" of restitution has not yet been set by the court. § 18-1.3-603(3).

         ¶8 In Meza we construed the term "final amount" as applied to orders increasing restitution after judgment of conviction has already entered, finding that upon the entry of a judgment of conviction, which finalizes a criminal conviction for purposes of appeal, without also including one of the orders statutorily reserving a determination of the final amount of restitution for a future proceeding, the criminal court loses any remaining power it may have to order restitution. Meza, ¶ 16, P.3d at . With regard to the enumerated "order(s) for restitution" authorized by section 18-1.3-603(1), the record of the plea and sentencing hearing in this case reveals only an order for the specific amount of $4, 728. See ยง 18-1.3-603(1)(a). In fact, nothing in the record suggests that the providency court intended anything other than to accept the defendant's guilty plea according to the terms of the plea agreement, which included a stipulation to restitution in the amount of $4, 728. Nor do the People ...


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