Court may consider SSI in restitution order

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The Indiana Supreme Court sided with the federal courts that have concluded courts may consider one’s Social Security income when determining how much a person may pay in restitution.

The issue arose in Rebecca D. Kays v. State of Indiana,No. 42S05-1107-CR-441, in which Rebecca Kays appealed the order that she pay more than $1,400 in restitution to her neighbor after Kays was convicted of misdemeanor battery. Kays claimed that her sole source of income is Social Security disability payments, and she lacked the ability to pay it. The trial court said she could pay it over a period of time.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, finding the trial court didn’t properly look into Kays’ ability to pay and failed to establish the manner and time of her payments. The judges also ordered the trial court to ignore her SSI in its determination of her ability to pay restitution because they held that a restitution order is an “other legal process” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 407(a) which cannot be applied to Social Security benefits.

The justices agreed that the issue should be sent back to the trial court for a determination of Kays’ ability to pay and how she’d make those payments. But, they disagreed with the COA that SSI is exempt from consideration with regards to restitution payments.

Justice Robert Rucker noted there is scant case authority as to whether Social Security benefits can be taken into consideration to determine a fine or restitution, but the high court found several federal cases to be persuasive, including United States v. Smith, 47 F.3d 681, 684, (4th Cir. 1995).

“In concert with the reasoning of these opinions, we find nothing in 42 U.S.C. § 407(a) to prohibit a trial court from considering a defendant’s social security income when determining the ‘amount the person can or will be able to pay’ in restitution pursuant to Indiana Code section 35-38-2-2.3(a)(5),” Rucker wrote.  



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  1. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  2. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  3. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  4. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon

  5. So men who think they are girls at heart can use the lady's potty? Usually the longer line is for the women's loo, so, the ladies may be the ones to experience temporary gender dysphoria, who knows? Is it ok to joke about his or is that hate? I may need a brainwash too, hey! I may just object to my own comment, later, if I get myself properly "oriented"