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Restitution appropriate because defendant’s conduct during entire incident showed causal connection between crime and victim’s damages

State v. Chaz L. Brown, 2014AP1848-CR, District 3, 5/19/15 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

A “midsummer night’s attempt at self-help debt collection” (¶2) led to Brown being charged with disorderly conduct and battery. He was acquitted of the battery charges based on his self-defense claim, but he was convicted of the DC. (¶¶2-5). Based on Brown’s conduct during the entire incident, there was sufficient evidence showing a causal connection between Brown’s DC and the battery victim’s damages to support the trial court’s restitution order.

For purposes of ordering restitution under § 973.20, the crime of conviction “encompasses ‘all facts and reasonable inferences concerning the defendant’s activity related to the ‘crime’ for which the defendant was convicted, not just those facts necessary to support the elements of the specific charge of which the defendant was convicted.’” State v. Canady, 2000 WI App 87, ¶10, 234 Wis. 2d 261, 610 N.W.2d 147 (citation omitted). Thus, the sentencing court is to consider the defendant’s “entire course of conduct.” Id. That is exactly what the circuit court did here:

¶12      …. The Honorable Mitchell J. Metropulos presided at all three proceedings [trial, sentencing, and restitution hearing] and was therefore in a position to refer back to the testimony from trial at the restitution hearing. As previously described, the court did so, properly noting Brown’s conduct during the entirety of the incident leading up to and causing injury to R.A. [the battery victim]. See id., ¶10 (court to consider entire course of conduct). Indeed, the evidence at trial showed Brown created a disturbance by going to R.A.’s residence late at night. Brown banged on the door, rang the doorbell, yelled, tried to pull an occupant from the residence, and punched R.A. in the face in self-defense, causing the damages for which restitution was ordered. ….

¶13      Brown’s disorderly conduct set in motion the events that resulted in injuries to R.A. But for Brown’s actions in going to R.A.’s house and creating a disturbance, R.A. would not have been injured. Brown’s disorderly conduct was “the precipitating cause” of R.A.’s injuries, and the harm R.A. sustained resulted from “the natural consequence[s] of [Brown’s] actions.” See Canady, 234 Wis. 2d 261, ¶9. The circuit court properly found a causal connection between that conduct and R.A.’s damages. ….

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