The law on restitution for crimes committed prior to July, 2000
By statute, Washington Courts have authority to enforce legal financial obligations for crimes committed prior to July 1, 2000 for 10 years, or up to twenty if the court timely extends the limitation period:
“…legal financial obligations for an offense committed prior to July 1, 2000, may be enforced at any time during the ten-year period following the offender's release from total confinement or within ten years of entry of the judgment and sentence, whichever period ends later. Prior to the expiration of the initial ten-year period, the superior court may extend the criminal judgment an additional ten years for payment of legal financial obligations including crime victims' assessments.”
Our State Supreme Court construes this statute strictly, holding that after the limitation period, LFOs expire and become void. State v. Gossage, 165 Wash.2d 1 (2008). In State v. Gossage, the Court terminated all LFOs, including restitution, after a non-extended ten year limitation period ran in the case of a convicted sex offender.
So, what does this mean?
If you owe legal financial obligations, including restitution, for felony offenses committed prior to July 1, 2000 then you are eligible to have them terminated so long as 10 years have passed since the time of your release, or 20 if the court issued an order extending the limitation period.
This is a powerful tool for people facing old and seemingly unsurmountable amounts of court debt, and can result in the court terminating tens of thousands of dollars.