A Petition for Relief from a Conviction Cannot Be Denied Solely Because Of an Unfulfilled Order of Restitution or Restitution Fine
In a significant step toward addressing the disproportionate impact of restitution orders on marginalized communities, the State of California has passed Senate Bill 1106.
This legislation does the following:
- Brings about crucial changes to various sections of the California Penal Code, including PC 17, 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.4b, 1203.41, 1203.42, and 1203.45,
- Introduces PC 1210.6
- Repeals PC 11177.2.
The new provisions recognize the systemic inequalities and negative consequences associated with the enforcement of restitution orders.Under Existing Law, Individuals with Outstanding Restitution Orders Could not Access Relief From a Conviction
One of the key provisions of SB 1106 is the prohibition on denying a petition for relief solely based on an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine.
Previously, existing law allowed courts to dismiss accusations and release individuals from penalties and disabilities of conviction under certain circumstances. However, the court had the discretion to deny relief to individuals who did not meet specific requirements. This often resulted in individuals being unable to access relief solely due to outstanding restitution orders.
The new legislation rectifies this issue by explicitly stating that a petition for relief, whether statutorily authorized or at the court's discretion, cannot be denied due to an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine.
This important change recognizes that the inability to fulfill restitution obligations should not serve as a barrier to obtaining relief from a conviction.SB 1106 Seeks to Eliminate Racial Biases Existing in Restitution Orders
The legislative findings and declarations of SB 1106 underscore the disparities faced by marginalized communities when it comes to restitution orders. The legislation highlights the following:
- Courts disproportionately impose restitution on Black and Brown individuals.
- Women are often ordered to pay restitution amounts significantly higher than those imposed on men.
- Majority of people burdened with restitution debt cannot afford to pay it.
By addressing these issues, SB 1106 aims to alleviate the harsh and prolonged punitive outcomes that individuals and their families face when they are unable to pay restitution or restitution fines.California Penal Code Sections As Amended By SB 1106
SB 1106 introduces amendments to several sections of the California Penal Code to ensure the consistent application of this new rule. These amendments include:The addition of subdivision (f) to PC 17
This new subdivision stipulates that an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine shall not be grounds for denial of a request or application for reduction.New subdivisions in PC 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.4b, 1203.41, 1203.42, and 1203.45
These new subdivisions reinforce that an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine should not be a basis for denying relief or finding a defendant in violation of probation conditions.New Penal Code, PC 1210.6
The newly introduced PC 1210.6, which falls under Chapter 1 of Part 2, Title 8 of the California Penal Code clarifies that an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine shall not be grounds for denying relief to a person who was previously on probation and was required to make victim restitution. It emphasizes that the court should not use outstanding restitution obligations to undermine an individual's eligibility for relief.SB 1106 Exceptions
It is important to note that while SB 1106 prohibits the denial of relief based solely on an unfulfilled order of restitution or restitution fine, it does not negate the responsibility to fulfill these obligations.
The legislation recognizes that the inability to pay should not be a permanent barrier to obtaining relief, especially considering the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.
However, the court still has the discretion to consider a petitioner's efforts to fulfill restitution orders when determining relief eligibility.Conclusion
The amendments to various sections of the California Penal Code provide clear guidance to courts and emphasize the importance of considering the systemic inequities associated with restitution obligations. Ultimately, this legislation promotes fairness, compassion, and the opportunity for individuals to rebuild their lives beyond the burdens of past convictions.