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Court of appeals reverses order for restitution of property that was unrelated to either a conviction or a read-in charge

State v. Lance F., 2014AP1881-FT, 12/23/14, District 2 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity

A circuit court lacks authority to order a juvenile (who had been found delinquent for battery, disorderly conduct and physical abuse of a child) to make restitution of the victim’s missing property, where he was never charged with theft of the property, he never admitted to stealing the property, and the state did not read in charges relating to theft of the property. The court explained:

Indeed, the State admitted before the circuit court that it did not have enough evidence to file a petition related to the alleged theft of the iPod. That said, the circuit court nonetheless properly could have ordered restitution for the iPod if it could reasonably be said that the offense for which Lance was adjudicated—the battery—somehow caused the loss of the iPod. For example, if the iPod had been on either Lance’s or David’s person at the time of the battery and had been broken during the battery, restitution for such damage properly could have been ordered. It is undisputed, however, that the battery in no way contributed to the loss of the iPod. The circuit court had no more authority to order restitution for the iPod than it would have had to order restitution for a new shirt if Lance had torn David’s shirt two months earlier and such damage was shown to have been part of the tension between the boys that led up to the battery. Slip op. ¶9.

We must also point out that at the dispositional hearing, the disorderly conduct charge was treated as a read-in offense. Neither party contends that the disorderly conduct charge related to the loss of the iPod. According to the record, it appears instead that this charge related solely to the altercation between Lance and David, not to the alleged theft of the iPod. This is an important distinction because had the read-in disorderly conduct charge related to the loss of the iPod, restitution for the iPod would have been properly ordered in this case. See State v. Piotter, 2009AP2005, unpublished slip op. (WI App Jan. 26, 2010). Slip op. ¶12.



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