ILNews

Restitution can't include security system costs

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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State statute doesn't allow trial courts to order restitution to pay for installation of a security system in victims' homes, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.

Ruling on Keith Elton Rich v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0712-CR-687, the appellate court reversed Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Thomas Busch's restitution order issued in October 2007. Rich had pleaded guilty to burglary and marijuana possession and received a 14-year sentence that was partially suspended to probation. As a condition of probation, he also was ordered to pay a $200 public defender fee, and reimburse the victims for the cost of a home security system.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence, ruling that the trial judge acted within its discretion on everything except the security system aspect of restitution. Judge Busch had questioned whether he had the authority to order that reimbursement. The judge had ordered Rich pay $2,154.20 for installation and monthly fees for the system, which the victims had installed "to help give peace-of-mind while alone at night or out of the house."

"Although this case is the first opportunity Indiana appellate courts have had to address the propriety of a restitution award for a burglary victim's installation of a security system, several of our sister states with restitution statutes similar to our own have addressed this question and concluded that the inclusion of this cost is improper," Judge Margret Robb wrote, citing caselaw from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, and Idaho.

The court relied on its holdings that restitution must reflect an actual loss incurred by the victim, and it analyzed the state statute's plain language that victims can receive restitution for "property damages" based on the cost of "repair."

"In no way do we fault or criticize the victims for feeling insecure in their home or seeking to install a security system," Judge Robb wrote. "However, whether the trial court should have the discretion to include the cost of a new security system in a restitution order is a question more properly addressed to the legislative branch than to the judicial branch. The installation of the new security system does not constitute such damage, and no other portion of the statute can be construed to authorize such an order."

This case is remanded with instructions to correct the restitution order.
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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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