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People v. Freidt: probation with restitution good news

Ticking clock  Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Jon ArtzAppellate court ends abuse of “Probation revoked”

Dec. 12, 2013 – In yesterday’s People v. Freidt decision, a California Court of Appeals ruled that the original trial court could not keep the defendant on “probation revoked” status indefinitely because of unpaid restitution debt.

Why is that good news for DUI restitution cases?  First, we have to define terms…

Probation: People convicted of a felony in California are often granted probation in lieu of incarceration.  They can avoid prison if they agree to abide by certain terms and conditions, such as paying…

Restitution: When a court orders a convicted DUI defendant to pay “damages” to his victims—for hospital bills, loss of earnings, property damages, etc.—that’s “restitution.”  Many courts have used DUI restitution payments as a kind of “collateral” to guarantee full payment.

Probation Violation: Failure to comply with probation terms and conditions may result in a Probation Violation (PV).  When DUI restitution payments are not made on time or paid in full by the end of the probation period, some court have “revoked” or extended the probation—reopening the possibility of incarceration.

How Freidt probation/restitution case affects CA DUI cases

The Freidt case is not a DUI case, but it impacts DUI restitution cases across California.

The problem is that the trial courts sometimes use the double threat of endless probation (going beyond a 5-year statutory limit, for example) or of “probation revoked” as a kind of “collateral” (or club) to insure timely payments.

But if the defendant has shown good faith in making DUI restitution payments per terms and conditions—with no evidence of willful violation of probation terms—then that person’s probation should be allowed to expire without constantly pushing the “Pause” button.

Yesterday’s appellate court ruled that the trial court could not “stop the clock” and keep the defendant on probation revoked status indefinitely.  The probation was therefore ordered discharged by the court of appeal.  The “sword of Damocles” hanging over Ms. Freidt’s head has been removed, since her 5-year probation period has already “run out.”

This is good news for people convicted of DUI who are sincerely trying to pay restitution to their victims, but who are unable to pay off all debts within their probation period. 

Do you agree?  Please comment and share below.

And if you need help with a DUI probation, probation violation, revoked probation, or DUI restitution case,

Call Jon Artz today at (310) 820-1315.

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