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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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