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. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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