Probation Violation Failure to Pay Restitution In California

In In re Griffin (1967), 67 Cal. 2d at pages 346-349, the defendant was granted probation on July 23, 1963, for three years on various conditions including that he make restitution through the probation officer. He failed to make the payments as ordered and was alleged to have violated other terms of his probation as well. The defendant appeared in court on July 5, 1966 for a hearing on revocation of probation. The defendant requested time to hire an attorney and the matter was continued to August 2, 1966 without anyone mentioning the fact that probation would expire on July 22, 1966. On August 2, 1966, the defendant appeared and the trial court revoked probation and continued the matter for one more week. the defendant then contended that the trial court lost jurisdiction to revoke probation when the probationary period expired on July 22, 1966. The trial court ruled that the defendant had waived his right to object to the revocation on jurisdictional grounds since he had requested the continuance to a date when probation would expire. (Id. at pp. 344-345.) The Supreme Court in Griffin noted that under statutory and case law the trial court lost jurisdiction or "power" to revoke probation after the probationary period expired. (Id. at p. 346.) The trial court then noted that the issue involved was not lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which cannot be conferred by consent or estoppel, but rather was whether the court could act in excess of its jurisdiction over the case. (Id. at pp. 346-347.) It found that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the case and held that when "the court has jurisdiction of the subject, a party who seeks or consents to action beyond the court's power as defined by statute or decisional rule may be estopped to complain of the ensuing action in excess of jurisdiction." (Id. at p. 347.) The trial court then applied the rule of estoppel to preclude the defendant from asserting a lack of jurisdiction resulting from the trial court's granting of his request for a continuance. (Id. at p. 348.) In a criminal case subject matter jurisdiction refers to jurisdiction over the offense. ( Burns v. Municipal Court (1961) 195 Cal. App. 2d 596, 599, 16 Cal. Rptr. 64; see also People v. Superior Court (Marks) (1991) 1 Cal. 4th 56, 62-71, 820 P.2d 613 [statutes mandating that a court can only act in a certain manner, or cannot act at all without certain procedural prerequisites, mean that actions taken in violation may be in excess of jurisdiction and may at times constitute a violation of due process but do not deprive the court of jurisdiction in the fundamental sense]; 4 Witkin & Epstein, Cal. Criminal Law (2d ed. 1989) Jurisdiction and Venue, 1822, 1829, pp. 2159, 2166.)