County District Court No. 16CR2039 Honorable Thomas B.
REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Erin K. Grundy, Assistant
Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee
Patricia Jo Stone, P.C., Jay C. Fisher, Parker, Colorado, for
1 Defendant, Alicia Sherie Sosa, appeals from the district
court's order imposing restitution. As a matter of first
impression, and as an extension of the rationale in Cowen
v. People, 2018 CO 96, we conclude that Colorado's
restitution statutes do not authorize a trial court to order
a defendant to pay restitution for pecuniary losses caused by
conduct for which a defendant was never criminally charged.
Because Sosa was ordered to pay restitution for losses
arising from conduct for which she was not charged, we
reverse the restitution order as it applies to Sosa and
remand the case to the district court for further
2 At approximately 1 a.m. on February 28, 2016, two men were
injured and one man was killed during a drive-by shooting at
the Iron Horse Bar in Pueblo. Police identified Angelo Salas
and Timothy Trujillo as the primary suspects and issued
warrants for their arrest.
3 During the investigation, police learned that Sosa was
Salas's girlfriend. About a week after the shooting,
police located Sosa's rental car and conducted a traffic
stop. Salas was inside and was arrested. The officers also
identified Trujillo in a car stopped just behind Sosa's
during the traffic stop. Trujillo was also arrested.
4 In a subsequent interview, Sosa admitted that she knew
there was an outstanding warrant for the men and that she had
been camping out with them since the shooting.
5 Sosa was charged with accessory to the crime of first or
second degree murder. To facilitate a plea agreement, the
prosecution added a second count of accessory to second
degree murder heat of passion. Sosa pleaded guilty to the
second count, and the first count was dismissed. As part of
the plea agreement, Sosa acknowledged that she would be
ordered to pay restitution and that the dismissed count would
be considered for sentencing and restitution purposes. The
court sentenced her to ninety days in jail followed by three
years of supervised probation.
6 The prosecution moved the court to order Sosa to pay
restitution, including $25, 253.82 to the Victim Compensation
Fund and $5562.70 to the claimant for the deceased victim.
The prosecution asked that Sosa be ordered to pay restitution
jointly and severally with her co-defendants: Salas,
Trujillo, and Trujillo's girlfriend. The requested
restitution included the shooting victims' medical bills
and lost wages, the deceased's funeral costs and
outstanding rent and utility bills, and travel expenses
related to the deceased's funeral. The court granted the
motion in full.
7 Sosa timely objected to the amount of the restitution
order. The court held a hearing, denied Sosa's
objections, and stood on its prior restitution order.
8 Sosa appeals.
9 After the opening brief was filed, the Colorado Supreme
Court announced Cowen, which held that
"Colorado's restitution statutes do not allow a
trial court to impose restitution for pecuniary losses caused
by conduct that formed the basis of a charge of which the
defendant has been acquitted." Cowen, ¶ 2.
Although the supreme court expressly declined to consider
whether a defendant could be ordered to pay restitution for
losses caused by uncharged conduct, id. at ¶ 8
n.3, we ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs to
address the impact of Cowen, if any, on Sosa's
Standard of Review
10 In her opening brief, Sosa contends that the district
court abused its discretion by ordering her to pay joint and
several restitution for the shooting victims' losses
because she was not the proximate cause of those losses. We
review a district court's restitution order for an abuse
of discretion. See People v. Henry, 2018 COA 48M,
¶ 12. A court abuses its discretion where its decision
misconstrues or misapplies the law, or is manifestly
arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair. Id.
11 In her supplemental brief, Sosa argues that the district
court's restitution order is not authorized by
Colorado's restitution statutes. Whether a trial court
has authority to impose restitution for losses suffered as a
result of uncharged conduct is a question of law that we
review de novo. Cf. Cowen, ¶ 11 ("[W]e
agree with the parties that whether a trial court has
authority to impose restitution for losses suffered as a
result of acquitted conduct is a question of law."). We
also review questions of statutory construction de novo.
Rules of Statutory Interpretation
12 When interpreting statutes, our primary goal is to
ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent.
Id. at ¶ 12. To do so, we look first at the
language of the statute, giving words and phrases their plain
and ordinary meanings, Henry, ¶ 14, if the
language is clear and unambiguous, Cowen, ¶ 12.
13 In applying the plain meaning of a statute, we must give
consistent effect to all its parts and construe each
provision in harmony with the overall statutory design.
Id. at ¶ 13. When a statutory term is
undefined, we ...