March 26, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Restitution Paid to DHS During Dependency and Neglect Action Inappropriate

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Padilla-Lopez on July 22, 2010.

Restitution—Drug Possession—Child Abuse—Dependency and Neglect—Department of Human Services—Victim—CRS §§ 18-1.3-602 and -205.

Defendant appealed the district court’s order imposing restitution. The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Undercover detectives purchased methamphetamine and cocaine from a third party in defendant’s residence while her children were present. Detectives thereafter executed a search warrant and recovered additional illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, which were within the children’s reach. Defendant was charged with drug possession and child abuse. To resolve the charges, she pled guilty to two counts of possession, misdemeanor theft, and misdemeanor child abuse. In the plea agreement, defendant stipulated that she would pay restitution. The court ordered defendant to pay $19,295.14 in restitution to the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) for the money it expended to place and keep her two children in foster care through the dependency and neglect action.

Defendant contended that the court erred in ordering her to pay restitution to DHS. Because an essential element of the underlying crime in this case requires wrongful conduct against a child, it follows that DHS is not a “victim” under CRS § 18-1.3-602, and any expenses it incurred were incidental to its duties. Therefore, the court erred in imposing restitution to DHS under CRS § 18-1.3-205. The court’s restitution order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

This summary is published here courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer. Other summaries by the Colorado Court of Appeals on July 22, 2010, can be found here.

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