South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Government May Move to Enforce Restitution Order at Any Time

Appeals court held that the government could file a lien to try to help payment of restitution owed as part of a criminal conviction. There is no time limit when such liens may be filed and they are good for up to 20 years when filed.

Topic Criminal Law
Key Words

Restitution, Enforcement, Time Limit

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Ridgeway was convicted of fraud in 1992. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised released. He was fined $50,000. He was also ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to the Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association (LIGA). After he completed supervised release, he executed a note with LIGA to pay at least $100 a month until the debt was paid. In 2004, the debt not having been paid, the U.S. government filed a lien against his property for $150,000, the amount of his fine plus the restitution owed to LIGA. He filed a motion to set aside the lien, arguing that the government was not authorized to collect the money owed LIGA. The district court denied Ridgeway’s motion. He appealed.


Affirmed. The time limits established in the Victim and Witness Protection Act do not limit the time period during which the government can collect overdue payments under a restitution order. The enforcement provision of the Act provide for the collection of past due restitution orders by the imposition of a lien for a period of 20 years after entry of the restitution order. Hence, a collection effort may be made at any time and a lien may be good for up to 20 years. The fact that the restitution is owed to a party other than the U.S. government, does not limit the right of the government to impose a lien to try to collect restitution owed.


U.S. v. Ridgeway, 489 F.3d (5th Cir., 2007)

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