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People ex rel. A.N.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

May 9, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of A.N., Juvenile-Appellant.

          City and County of Denver Juvenile Court No. 14JD59 Honorable D. Brett Woods, Judge

          Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Jacob R. Lofgren, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Ryann S. Hardman, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Juvenile-Appellant

          OPINION

          JUDGE RICHMAN

         ¶ 1 Appellant, A.N., appeals the trial court's order overruling his objection to the Judicial Department's method of calculating and assessing monthly interest on his unpaid restitution balance and denying his motion for an order specifying that interest will be assessed on a yearly basis. We affirm the trial court's order.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 A.N. is a juvenile who stole an unoccupied car that had been left running. Police found and pursued A.N., and a high-speed chase ensued. The chase ended when A.N. crashed the car in an open field and was apprehended by police. A.N. was charged with several offenses and elected to plead guilty to second degree aggravated motor vehicle theft. As part of his plea, he agreed to pay restitution to the victims. Although the parties stipulated to some of the restitution expenses, A.N. disputed the full amount of restitution sought. That dispute was ultimately resolved by this court in People in Interest of A.N., (Colo.App. No. 15CA0014, Feb. 16, 2017) (not published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(e)) (A.N. I), wherein a division of this court affirmed the award of $9677.44 in restitution to the victims.

         ¶ 3 While A.N. I was pending, the Judicial Department announced that to remedy prior inconsistencies in its method of calculating and assessing interest on restitution obligations, it would begin calculating and assessing 1% interest on all restitution obligations on a monthly basis. A.N. received a letter notifying him that, beginning in September of that year, interest would be added to his restitution balance at a rate of 1% per month. A.N. filed a motion objecting to this notification in the trial court, additionally requesting an order that his interest be calculated and assessed at the end of each year and not on a monthly basis. In a thorough, written order, the trial court overruled A.N.'s objection and denied A.N.'s motion for an order contrary to the Judicial Department's decision.[1]

         ¶ 4 A.N. makes four contentions on appeal. First, he contends that the trial court erred in concluding that the Judicial Department's method of calculating and assessing interest comports with the plain language of the statute in effect at the time that restitution was ordered. § 18-1.3-603(4)(b)(I), C.R.S. 2013 (hereinafter, the restitution interest statute). Second, he contends that if this court concludes that monthly interest assessments are proper, then the restitution interest statute is irreconcilably ambiguous as to the permitted methods of calculating and assessing interest, requiring us to invoke the rule of lenity to interpret the restitution interest statute in his favor. Third, he contends that the calculation and assessment of monthly interest undermines the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system. Fourth, he contends that any reading of the restitution interest statute that allows for the calculation and assessment of interest at a time other than at the end of each year renders the statute unconstitutionally vague.

         II. The Restitution Interest Statute

         A. Standard of Review

         ¶ 5 The manner in which restitution is imposed in Colorado is a matter of statutory law. §§ 18-1.3-601 to -603, C.R.S. 2018. Where, as here, an appeal requires us to interpret a statute, our review is de novo. People v. Ortiz, 2016 COA 58, ¶ 15.

         B. The Meaning of "Per Annum"

         ¶ 6 When restitution is ordered by the trial court, it is due and payable when the court enters the order. § 16-18.5-104(1), C.R.S. 2018. If a defendant cannot pay the entire amount of restitution at that time, the defendant will be referred to a collections investigator who will set a payment schedule. § 16-18.5-104(4)(a)(I). The defendant must pay interest on the unpaid balance. § 18-1.3-603(4)(b)(I), C.R.S. 2018. The restitution interest statute was originally enacted to provide "full restitution for victims of crime in the most expeditious manner." Roberts v. People, 130 P.3d 1005, 1009 (Colo. 2006) (quoting ยง 18-1.3-601(1)(g)(I), C.R.S. 2005). When the trial court issued A.N.'s restitution order, the relevant statute provided that "[a]ny order for restitution made pursuant to this section shall also be deemed to order that . . . [t]he defendant owes ...


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