Victim Restitution in Arizona

Arizona law states victims have the right to request restitution and receive prompt payment (A.R.S. ยง13-804). In most cases, the victim or company will speak to the pre-sentence investigator to request restitution. A victim may also be eligible for Restitution Liens.

Restitution is not automatically ordered when a defendant signs a plea agreement with the County Attorney. If a victim wants restitution and it has not been ordered through the court, it is very important a victim makes the request in a timely manner. For restitution to be valid, it must be ordered by a judge and contained on a court minute entry. An Arizona law signed in 2018 gives the probation department jurisdiction to request a restitution hearing for the period of the probation term (A.R.S. § 13-810). If the defendant is sentenced to the Department of Corrections, the County Attorney has jurisdiction to request a restitution hearing. If restitution is not ordered and there is no other court stipulation to keep restitution open, the County Attorney can lose jurisdiction. Under Rule 24.3, Modification of Sentence, the County Attorney has 60 days to file an illegal lenient sentence to include restitution. If the County Attorney fails to do this, the victim may not ask for restitution at a later date. If the defendant is released from probation or parole, jurisdiction no longer exists for the court to order restitution. The only remedy for the victim in both these scenarios is to file a civil claim against the defendant. For more information about jurisdiction, you may contact Adult Probation Department Victim Services Unit.

After the court determines the amount of restitution, a payment plan will be set up if the probationer cannot pay the lump sum. If there is an objection to the amount requested or if the Court or Probation Department were unable to determine an amount, the Court may keep restitution open or set a date for a restitution hearing. Restitution is non dischargeable through bankruptcy (A.R.S. §13-603).

In Arizona, restitution liens are available to all victims of crime who have been awarded restitution by a Judge. There are two types of liens: Liens in which a victim may file on their own (A.R.S. §13-806); OR Criminal Restitution Orders which the court files (A.R.S. §13-805). Both are civil judgments and can be filed against a defendant's property or future property, such as home or land, and against currently owned vehicle, such as a car, truck, boat, ATV, etc. A victim can file a lien once a Judge orders restitution. The victim becomes the lien holder and is responsible for releasing the lien once the restitution is paid in full. A victim wishing to file their own lien will have to provide the Victim Services Unit with the last known address and date of birth of the defendant and a description and address of the property. For more information about property, victims can access the Recorder's Office via Internet. The Victim Services Unit (VSU) can assist with Motor Vehicle record's, obtain certified copies of the Minute Entries, and a Judges signature. For more information on guides and sample forms, contact APD Victim Services Unit. The Criminal Restitution Order is filed only upon absolute release from the Department of Corrections (parole finished) or upon termination of probation. It is not only against property listed above, but once filed, the County Collection Unit can intercept Arizona Income Tax Refunds, lottery winnings, excess from trustee sales, and civil judgment awards. The County Collection Unit may not allow defendants to register their vehicles as well. The unit will also continue to report the lien to all major credit bureaus. After 120 days, the County Collection Unit will outsource a portion of the order to private collectors and eventually garnish wages.