[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Paso County District Court No. 09CR254, Honorable Robert L.
H. Coffman, Attorney General, Majid Yazdi, Assistant Attorney
General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Tracy C. Renner,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
When a statute says that a defendant owes interest at a rate
of 12% per annum on his restitution obligation, does that
mean that the Colorado Judicial Department can only require
him to make one interest payment per year? Defendant, Matthew
James Ray, thinks so. We do not.
Our story begins with a letter sent by the Judicial
Department in July 2015. It said that the Judicial Department
would begin charging defendant interest at "1% per
month" on any outstanding restitution balance. He
responded by asking the trial court for an order declaring
that the Judicial Department did not have the statutory
authority to charge him monthly interest. The trial court
Defendant appealed. We affirm.
A jury convicted defendant of second degree assault. The
trial court sentenced him to prison, and it ordered him to
pay $19,855.91 in restitution.
When the court issued the restitution order, section
18-1.3-603(4)(b)(I), C.R.S. 2012, which we shall call
"the restitution statute," provided that a
defendant owed post-judgment interest "from the date of
the entry of the order at the rate of twelve percent per
annum." (In 2016, the legislature amended the statute to
lower the rate to 8%. Ch. 277, sec. 1, § 18-1.3-603, 2016
Colo. Sess. Laws 1142.) The restitution order in this case
specifically noted that "interest will accrue at 12% per
annum from the date of entry of the order."
In June 2015, the Judicial Department issued a press release
"announc[ing] a finalized plan to correct deficiencies
in calculating and assessing interest on restitution."
The press release noted that the restitution statute
"ha[d] not been applied consistently among the states
judicial districts" and that the Judicial Department
would begin "calculat[ing] and assess[ing] 1 percent
interest monthly on restitution balances to ensure consistent
and accurate application of the law across the state."
The new policy came on the heels of a 2014 report issued by
the Colorado State Auditor. The report noted that most
judicial districts had not assessed or collected any interest
since the legislature had enacted the restitution statute.
In July 2015, clerks of court around the state began sending
letters to defendants with outstanding restitution balances
to inform them of the new policy. Defendant received a letter
from the clerk of the El Paso County district court, which
stated that he had an outstanding restitution balance of
$19,583.98 and that "interest will be added at 1% per