What is Restitution and What is Included?
The right to restitution is outlined by Minnesota Statute § 611A.04, which says that “a victim of a crime has the right to receive restitution as part of the disposition of a criminal charge or juvenile delinquency proceeding against the offender if the offender is convicted or found delinquent.” The goal of restitution is to restore the victim to the same or similar economic position that they were in prior to the crime against them being committed. This is done by requiring the convicted person to pay the victim for the damage that was caused to them because of the offender’s actions.
For the victim to request that an offender reimburse them for damages, the claimed damage must be a direct result of the offender’s crime that they are convicted for. State v. Miller, 842 N.W.2d 474 (Minn. Ct. App 2014). Additionally, the State must show facts that the damages resulted directly from the offender’s conduct. State v. Boettcher, 931 N.W.2d 376 (Minn. 2019).
While the statute specifically allows for certain things, like medical and counseling expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses, it can also include any “out-of-pocket” cost incurred as a result of the crime. The only limit to restitution is if the cost is not directly related to the criminal actions of the offender for the crime that they are convicted of.
In State v. Johnson, the victim tried to claim that the vehicle that was totaled was valued at $3,080.41 which is what was still owed on it at the time that Johnson committed the murder. The insurance company refused to pay because there was a $1,000 deductible required and the insurance company claimed that the car was not worth $1,000 despite over $3,000 being owed. The Court found that there was not a “sufficient factual basis” supporting the claim that Johnson caused over $3,000 in damages and vacated (eliminated) that portion of the restitution order because restitution can only compensate for damage that was actually caused to the victim, not the total projected or estimated value of loss. State v. Johnson, 851 N.W.2d 60 (Minn. 2014).