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Restitution — Law Enforcement Collateral Expenses

State v. James N. Storlie, 2002 WI App 163
For Storlie: William E. Schmaal, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether the destruction of “stop sticks” caused by defendant’s flight from the police is properly subject to a restitution order.

Holding:

¶10…. (T)he government is entitled to restitution for losses incurred when it is a victim as a direct result of criminal conduct, but not for collateral expenses incurred in the normal course of law enforcement.

¶11. Under the facts presented, we are satisfied that the police department is not a victim within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 973.20 and therefore is not entitled to restitution for destruction of the stop sticks. There is no dispute that the officers deployed the sticks with the purpose that Storlie’s vehicle would run over them and that he would be apprehended. The cost of the sticks was an expenditure incurred in the apprehension of a criminal suspect. Accordingly, their destruction was similar to the cost of the overtime for the SWAT team in Ortiz and the “buy money” in Howard-Hastings — expenses incurred for tools used in the apprehension of criminal suspects. [Sic: Howard-Hastings  is a vandalism case; the court undoubtedly meant to refer to State v. Evans, 181 Wis.2d 978, 984, 512 N.W.2d 259, 261 (Ct. App. 1994).] Therefore, as a normal cost of law enforcement, the expense of the stop sticks did not cause the police department to be a “victim” under § 973.20.”

Court distinguishes destruction of “stop sticks,” whose sole purpose is to stop a fleeing car, from damage to a patrol car during a chase, which the court likens to vandalism. ¶14.

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