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Restitution — cost of new security system

State v. Jesse D. Fries, 2011AP517-CR, District 4, 12/27/12

Court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity


Cost of installing new, upgraded security system in a convenience store after robbery was a “special damage” and therefore a proper item of restitution:

¶8        Fries’ primary contention is that an expenditure does not qualify as a special damage unless it was “spent to return the victim to the financial state he was in before the crime occurred.”  Here, Fries maintains that the cost of the system was not incurred to return the store owner to his former financial state because he caused no damage to the system and the system was, by the store owner’s own admission, adequate to gather evidence of the crime.  Thus, Fries argues, the circuit court erred in awarding restitution to the store owner for the cost to replace the store’s security system.


¶10      We conclude that the court properly relied on the statements from the store clerk and the store owner in awarding the store owner the cost of the system.  As the court found, the cost to replace the security system was a readily ascertainable amount that was paid by the store owner, a victim of Fries’ crime, because his employees felt less secure, which was a natural consequence of the armed robbery.

To the court of appeals, ¶11, the result in this case flows easily from two previous cases, State v. Behnke203 Wis. 2d 43, 60, 553 N.W.2d 265 (Ct. App. 1996), and State v. Johnson, 2002 WI App 166, ¶21, 256 Wis. 2d 871, 649 N.W.2d 284. Those cases involved restitution awards for the cost of improved security on the ground that there was a causal connection between the defendant’s criminal conduct and the need for improved security in order to restore a lost sense of security, even though the defendants in those cases—like Fries—had not caused damage to any pre-existing security devices.

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