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State v. Gonzalez – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In State v. Gonzalez, 168 Wn.2d 256, 226 P.3d 131 (Wash. 2010), the defendant challenged on appeal an order modifying the amount of restitution he was obligated to pay, arguing both that it was entered in violation of the governing restitution statute and that it "constituted a second punishment in violation of double jeopardy." 226 P.3d at 132.

The appellate court rejected both arguments. It explained that, by statute, a trial court could enter an order of restitution at any time within 180 days after a proceeding in which sentence was imposed or beyond that time if the court continued the restitution hearing for good cause shown. A separate statutory provision permitted the court to modify "the amount, terms, and conditions" of an order of restitution. Id. at 134.

In the defendant's case, the court had entered an order of restitution at the time of his sentencing. The order subsequently was amended to correct a clerical error. Over 900 days later, the State moved for the entry of a modified restitution order to reflect additional expenses incurred by the victim as a result of his injuries.

The court granted the motion and entered a modified restitution order, which more than doubled the total amount of restitution the defendant was obligated to pay.

On appeal from that order, the appellate court rejected the defendant's contention that the modification statute only permitted a modification of the amount of the monthly restitution payment, not a modification of the total amount of restitution.

It then turned to his constitutional argument.

The Court opined:

"…Here, the defendant was on notice that his sentence could be modified. As explained above, the restitution statute allows for the total amount to be amended. RCW 9.94A.753(4). Because everyone is charged with knowing what the law is, the defendant is deemed to know that his restitution order was amendable. While it is conceivable that the passage of time alone could be sufficient to give rise to a legitimate expectation of finality, sufficient time has not passed in this case. At trial, the defendant was made aware of the nature and extent of the victim's injuries. He knew that the victim's injuries were severe and would take substantial treatment time. Therefore, he could not have had a legitimate belief that the restitution order was final at the time the amended restitution order was entered.

Because the defendant did not have a legitimate expectation of finality in the restitution portion of his sentence, and because the restitution amount is consistent with RCW 9.94A.753(3), double jeopardy was not violated when the trial court entered the amended order of restitution…" Id. at 137.