CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, September 28, 2009

Burglar Ordered to Pay Restitution to Victim for Lost Wages from Attending Court

The San Francisco Chronicle has the story, headlined Burglar must repay victim for time in court.  Here's the lead:

In a broad interpretation of a law requiring criminals to make restitution to their victims, a state appeals court has ordered a Northern California burglar to repay a homeowner for the wages he gave up by attending every court hearing in the case.

The opinion is here.

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While restitution judgments give prosecutors and judges something to crow about, any practical value they might have is difficult to fathom.

I mean, the San Francisco burglar was probably a thief in the first place because other lucrative employment opportunities were beyond reach. Add a prison stretch for burglary (even assuming the Great Recession is over by the time he gets out), his prospects of landing work capable of generating restitution money after basic living expenses will be even more absurdly remote.

Same with the big restitution judgments imposed on those convicted of white-collar crimes. After the confiscations, hefty legal expenses and a felony conviction on the resume, exactly where is all that restitution money supposed come from.

At best the restitution judgment simply adds a massive stain to the ex-con's credit report, basically eliminating any possibility of borrowing money to start a business.

Big restitution orders usually appear to be, as Larry David might characterize them, empty gestures.

Posted by: John K | Sep 29, 2009 9:11:56 AM

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