The Restitution Court of the Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona

A special court helps crime victims collect restitution. 

Law enforcement professionals will tell you that financial restitution does not solve all the problems victims face because of the crimes committed against them, but it can help their healing process begin. In Arizona, keeping restitution payments current also helps ensure other court-ordered fines and fees are applied to court operations and not diverted to delinquent restitution cases.

The Restitution Court of the Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona is a special court that allows adult probationers to be brought before a court in civil contempt proceedings if they refuse to pay court-ordered restitution or if they are late with their payments.

Probation officers, professional collectors employed by the probation department, victims’ advocates, and judges can refer people to Restitution Court. The Adult Probation Department provides the court with information about the amount of restitution in arrears for cases on the docket. Probationers are given the chance to explain their situation to the bench during hearings. Judges can rule a probationer is not in contempt and dismiss the matter, delay a contempt finding and order the probationer to meet with collections agents to develop a plan to pay, rule a probationer is in civil contempt but allow them to remain free, or, find the probationer in contempt and take them into custody until a set amount is paid. Probationers found in contempt remain under the court’s jurisdiction and must appear at monthly hearings until the court determines they are no longer in contempt. That happens when the restitution is paid in full or has been reduced significantly by probationer payments.

Crime victims are pleased with the Restitution Court process and results. For example, between September 2008 and December 2009, the court held 306 hearings involving 97 people and collected more than $150,000 in restitution. Given that the people who appeared before the Restitution Court were, on average, at least a year behind on payments, it is likely that without the Restitution Court’s intervention, little, if any, of this money would have been collected and forwarded to victims. Contact Stephen Hartley, Adult Probation Supervisor, 602-319-3064, shartley@apd.maricopa.gov

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