Town of Gilbert Prosecutor’s Office v. Downie – 7/24/2007

July 31, 2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That The Amount Of Restitution Required For The Crime Of Contracting Without A License Is The Full Amount Of Payments Received From The Victim.

In Gilbert Municipal Court, Mitchell Michael Matykiewicz was convicted of contracting without a license for his work on a Gilbert residence. See A.R.S. §§ 32-1151, –1164. The victim-homeowners, therefore, were entitled to restitution. The municipal court held that the amount of restitution was the full amount that the homeowners had paid to Matykiewicz, notwithstanding the value of any improvements to their home or costs to Matykiewicz. On appeal, Judge Margaret Downie of the Maricopa County Superior Court vacated the restitution order and remanded for a new determination of the homeowners’ economic loss. The Town of Gilbert Prosecutor’s Office then filed this special action to preserve the restitution award.

The Arizona Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and granted the relief requested. The court concluded that State v. Wilkinson, 202 Ariz. 27, 39 P.3d 1131 (2002), at least implicitly mandated that the amount of restitution for contracting without a license was the full amount that the victims had paid to the defendant. Furthermore, notwithstanding the likelihood of a windfall to homeowners, the court justified its decision on deterrent and retributive grounds, noting the legislative intent to punish unlicensed contractors harshly.

Judge Hall dissented. He distinguished Wilkinson, noting the fact that it dealt with the inapposite issue of consequential loss. He also disagreed with the result because the majority’s holding would lead to windfalls for victims. Moreover, he noted that it would be unduly harsh on defendants and inconsistent with the reparative and rehabilitative purposes of restitution.

Judge Winthrop authored the opinion, which Judge Johnsen joined.