Court Explains Grounds for Imposing a Restitution Order in a Florida Battery Case

In Florida, people convicted of offenses involving bodily harm to another individual may face a variety of penalties. For example, in addition to being sentenced to jail time and probation, a person may be ordered to pay restitution fees. The courts can only order a defendant to pay restitution for harm arising out of their conduct, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion delivered in a battery case. If you are charged with battery, it is smart to confer with a Clearwater battery lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant, who was a minor, was arrested for battery. According to the allegations, the victim was involved in a physical fight with the co-defendant at a party. Subsequently, the defendant joined the argument and physically attacked the victim, hitting and kicking her in the back, face, and head. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was adjudicated delinquent.

Reportedly, during the sentencing phase of the case, the victim submitted an impact statement in which she requested restitution. During the restitution hearing, though, she clarified that she sought restitution solely as compensation for her paid absences from work to attend court-related proceedings and not because of the injuries allegedly caused by the defendant. The defendant objected to her request, but the trial court issued a restitution order as a condition of the defendant’s probation. The defendant appealed, arguing that the restitution order was inappropriate because the damages it imposed were not causally related to the subject offense.

Grounds for Imposing a Restitution Order

Determining whether the restitution awarded is permissible under the applicable statute is a question of law that is subject to de novo review. In Florida courts, when assessing a challenge to a restitution award under section 775.089, it is required to establish a causal connection between the loss or damage and the offense and that it bears a significant relationship to the offense. Past cases have emphasized that restitution can only be ordered for damages or losses that flow from the defendant’s criminal activity. For instance, courts have held that wages lost by a victim due to their presence as a witness in court proceedings are not causally related to the offense, and thus, restitution cannot be granted on that basis.

In this case, the victim did not suffer any wage loss or take time off work due to injuries caused by the defendant’s battery. The only financial loss incurred by the victim was the paid time off she used to attend the court proceedings. Since the loss of paid time off for court attendance is similar to losing wages for court appearances, it is an improper basis for awarding restitution. Therefore, the court found that the law did not support the imposition of a restitution order based on the victim’s use of paid time off cannot. Thus, considering that the paid time off has no significant relationship or causal connection to the underlying offense of simple battery, the restitution order issued by the trial court was reversed.

Confer with a Seasoned Clearwater Attorney

People convicted of battery crimes may be ordered to pay restitution for the losses they cause but should not be held accountable for damages that did not arise out of their alleged offenses. If you are charged with battery, it is in your best interest to confer with an attorney about your rights. The seasoned Clearwater battery defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and set forth compelling arguments on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.

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