Challenging Restitution in Minnesota - Timing is Critical

As part of any sentence or plea negotiation, a defendant may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim of the crime. A Court is supposed to analyze the bases for the restitution request against the resources available to the defendant. But, far too often, a request for restitution by the victim can go unchallenged, resulting in it being ordered without much oversight. That is why it is critical to be diligent in reviewing and challenging restitution requests in any case.

When challenging restitution in Minnesota, timing is critical – as made clear today by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Initially, a defendant has 30 days from the date he or she received the restitution request or 30 days after sentencing to request a hearing. Minn. Stat. 611A.045, subd. 3(b).

It is the defendant’s burden of producing evidence to challenge restitution. In order to do so, the rules require that the defendant file an affidavit alleging the grounds for challenging the restitution. This affidavit must be served on the prosecutor and court at least five business days (i.e. a full-week) before the hearing. Id. at subd. 3(a).

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that a service 4 business days in advance of the hearing was tardy and necessitated the court awarding restitution as requested, which was in excess of five-figures. Needless to say, timing is everything when it comes to challenging restitution.

If the victim is requesting restitution, be sure to diligently review the restitution request and know the deadlines to challenge it. You’d be surprised how effective a simple request for a hearing can be in reducing or eliminating restitution once a victim is made to back up their request.