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State v. Stevens

February 10, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of Snohomish County. Docket No: 94-8-01796-9. Date filed: 03/28/95.

PER CURIAM. -- Lindsay Lenz loaned her car *fn1 to her boyfriend, Daniel (Joe) Maggard, to wash it and pick her up at work. Maggard and his friend, Adam Stevens, drove to GTE, where Lenz worked, and followed another car into the company's secured parking lot. Stevens then roamed through the parking lot on foot, stealing items from unlocked cars. After GTE employees spotted him, Maggard drove Lenz' car recklessly through the lot, hitting parked cars and smashing into the gate as he and Stevens escaped. They were arrested a short time later and the stolen items were recovered.

Stevens was charged by information with one count of second degree burglary. He entered an Alford plea to the charge and, following his conviction, was ordered to pay restitution of $475.30 to GTE to repair its gate, and $3,251.72 to Lindsay Lenz to repair her car.

We hold that there was a sufficient causal connection between the burglary of the parking lot and the damage to Lenz' car for the trial court to order Stevens to pay restitution to Lenz. Lenz' car was damaged as a direct result of his crime, and Stevens was not required to have foreseen that he could be held liable for the damage for restitution to be awarded. We therefore affirm.

The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), whose purpose is, in part, to "make the juvenile offender accountable for his or her criminal behavior[,]" *fn2 requires juveniles to pay restitution to persons harmed by their behavior:

In its Dispositional order, the court shall require the respondent to make restitution to any persons who have suffered loss or damage as a result of the offense committed by the respondent. In addition, restitution may be ordered for loss or damage if the offender pleads guilty to a lesser offense or fewer offenses and agrees with the prosecutor's recommendation that the offender be required to pay restitution to a victim of an offense or offenses which, pursuant to a plea agreement, are not prosecuted.

(Emphasis added.) RCW 13.40.190(1). The restitution provisions of the JJA are to be liberally construed, in favor of imposing restitution. State v. Sanchez, 73 Wash. App. 486, 489, 869 P.2d 1133 (1994).

The authority to order restitution is purely statutory. State v. Hefa, 73 Wash. App. 865, 866, 871 P.2d 1093 (1994). But when the type of restitution in question is authorized by statute, imposing restitution generally is within the discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed absent abuse. State v. Davison, 116 Wash. 2d 917, 919, 809 P.2d 1374 (1991).

Stevens argues that because Lenz' property was not burglarized, there is not a sufficient causal connection between the burglary and Lenz' loss to support the restitution order. We disagree.

A defendant generally may not be required to pay restitution based on acts connected with the crime charged, when those acts are not part of the crime charged, unless the defendant pleads guilty and expressly agrees to pay restitution for the uncharged crimes. State v. Johnson, 69 Wash. App. 189, 191, 847 P.2d 960 (1993). However, a trial court may order restitution if the victim's damage was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant's criminal acts. State v. Tetters, 81 Wash. App. 478, 480, 914 P.2d 784 (1996); State v. Hunotte, 69 Wash. App. 670, 676, 851 P.2d 694 (1993). The fact that the immediate result of the defendant's specific acts might also constitute an "uncharged crime" does not excuse the defendant from paying restitution related to those acts. Hunotte, 69 Wash. App. at 677; State v. Harrington, 56 Wash. App. 176, 179, 782 P.2d 1101 (1989).

There must be a causal relationship between the crime charged and proven and the victim's damages. State v. Tetters, 81 Wash. App. at 480. A sufficient causal connection exists if, but for the defendant's criminal acts, the victim would not have suffered the damages for which restitution is sought. State v. Landrum, 66 Wash. App. 791, 799, 832 P.2d 1359 (1992). To determine whether a causal connection exists, the court looks to the underlying facts of the charged offense, not the name of the crime to which the defendant pleaded guilty. Landrum, 66 Wash. App. at 799.

Stevens contends that restitution may not be ordered unless the victim to whom it is to be paid is a victim of the charged offense. But the Supreme Court rejected essentially the same argument in State v. Barr, 99 Wash. 2d 75, 658 P.2d 1247 (1983). In that case, Donald Howe was killed when Charles Barr was driving while intoxicated and made a left turn in front of Howe's motorcycle. Howe's wife, Diane, was severely injured in the accident. Barr pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. The trial court ordered Barr to pay restitution to Diane and to Howe's daughter from a former marriage, for whom Howe had been paying child support.

Barr argued he should not have been ordered to pay restitution to Howe's wife and child because they were not victims of negligent homicide, and he could not be ordered to pay restitution based upon uncharged crimes. But the Supreme Court explained that the trial court did not award restitution to the wife and child based upon their status as victims of uncharged crimes. Rather, they were persons who suffered loss or damage because of the negligent homicide of their husband and father. Barr, 99 Wash. 2d at 78. The Court reasoned that the broad language of RCW 9.95.210(2), which allowed restitution to be awarded to any person who suffered loss or damage as a result of the charged crime, allowed such an interpretation. Barr, 99 Wash. 2d at 78.

In this case, Lindsay Lenz was a direct victim of Stevens' burglary. But for the burglary, Lenz' car would not have been damaged and, thus, a sufficient causal connection exists.

But Stevens distinguishes his case from Barr and others in which courts have held that restitution may be paid to persons other than the victim of the charged crime, claiming that restitution was proper in those cases because the persons receiving it were connected to or somehow stood in the shoes of the victim. But only one of the cases Stevens cites was based in part upon that reasoning. See State v. Barnett, 36 Wash. App. 560, 563, 675 P.2d 626, review denied, 101 Wash. 2d 1011 (1984). In Barnett, as in the other cases Stevens cites, the main reason for awarding restitution to persons other than the victims of the named crime was that those persons suffered direct losses as a result of the ...

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