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Restitution — Nexus — Generally

State v. Mark R. Johnson, 2005 WI App 201
For Johnson: Jefren Olsen , SPD, Madison Appellate


¶13      Second, before a trial court may order restitution “there must be a showing that the defendant’s criminal activity was a substantial factor in causing” pecuniary injury to the victim in a “but for” sense. Longmire, 272 Wis. 2d 759, ¶13; State v. Rash, 2003 WI App 32, ¶7, 260 Wis. 2d 369, 659 N.W.2d 189. “The phrase ‘substantial factor’ denotes that the defendant’s conduct has such an effect in producing the harm as to lead the trier of fact, as a reasonable person, to regard it as a cause, using that word in the popular sense.” Rash, 260 Wis. 2d 369, ¶7 (citation omitted).  This means that the defendant’s actions “must be the ‘precipitating cause of the injury’ and the harm must have resulted from ‘the natural consequence[s] of the actions.’”State v. Canady, 2000 WI App 87, ¶9, 234 Wis. 2d 261, 610 N.W.2d 147 (citation omitted). Put another way, a causal link for restitution purposes is established when “the defendant’s criminal act set into motion events that resulted in the damage or injury.” Longmire, 272 Wis. 2d 759, ¶13. A defendant “cannot escape responsibility for restitution simply because his or her conduct did not directly cause the damage.”  State v. Madlock, 230 Wis. 2d 324, 336, 602 N.W.2d 104 (Ct. App. 1999).


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