The Mazza Law Group, P.C.
2790 W. College Ave., Suite 800
State College, PA 16801 March 10, 2016
(814) 237-6255

Fines/Restitution paid by Defendant ordered returned

Due process requires the return of money paid towards fines, costs and restitution follow a Defendant’s successful appeal where prosecution declines to retry the case.  In Nelson v. Colorado, at issue was a Colorado case in which the defendants were convicted, but those convictions were reversed on appeal.  When the prosecution decided not to retry their cases, they sought return of the thousands of dollars they had already paid in previously ordered fines, costs, and restitution.  Colorado had a scheme which require such individuals to file a civil suit and prove their actual innocence by a preponderance of the evidence in order to get a refund.

The United State Supreme Court issued a ruling invalidating Colorado’s statute, stating that fines, costs, and restitution paid by an individual who successfully appeals a conviction of a crime and who will not be retried, must be returned to the defendant.

In delivering her opinion, Justice Ginsburg stated that such Colorado’s procedure deprives individuals of their right to due process.  “Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary exactions”.

Since the defendants did not stand convicted of the offenses, they were presumed innocent under the law, so it would be a violation of constitutional rights to require them to prove actual innocence in order to recover their money.  Noting that the convictions were invalid, “the state had no legal right to retain their money.”

If you have a case that was successfully appealed, you may be entitled to have any fines, costs and/or restitution you paid refunded. Likewise, if you or a loved one is facing a criminal trial or would like to file an appeal or post conviction relief petition, call the criminal defense lawyers at The Mazza Law Group for an assessment of your case.