R.C. v. State

In R.C. v. State,[1] the court of appeals held that courts are authorized to consider a juvenile’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution.  In 2014, at the age of fifteen, R.C. and another juvenile started a damaging fire on an elementary school playground.  R.C. admitted guilt and was charged as a delinquent minor.  At the restitution proceedings, the State argued that R.C. and the other juvenile should be jointly and severely liable for the full amount of the damages caused by their actions, which would make R.C. (and his parents) personally liable for $159,161.71.  After acknowledging R.C.’s limited assets, the superior court adopted a payment schedule that addressed R.C.’s ability to pay, but that did not adjust the amount owed on that basis.  R.C. appealed this ruling, arguing that he did not have the financial means to pay the restitution amount, and that the trial court should have considered this when determining the amount of restitution to be ordered.  The court of appeals vacated and remanded the trial court’s decision, finding that R.C.’s argument was supported by the plain meaning and legislative intent of section 47.12.120(b)(4) of the Alaska Statutes.  The court of appeals distinguished restitution proceedings for adults, where ability to pay may not be considered, from those for minors by focusing on the statutory language requiring that restitution for minors be “suitable.”  The court reasoned that this indicated financial information from the minor and the minor’s parents should be considered in setting the amount of restitution.  Moreover, the court of appeals asserted that both the legislative history of the statute and prior caselaw indicated that in the State of Alaska restitution is designed to not just be helpful to the victim, but to also aid in the rehabilitative process.  It explained that setting restitution for minors above what could possibly be paid would be detrimental to the rehabilitative process cutting against the purpose of the juvenile justice system.  Vacating and remanding the lower court’s decision, the court of appeals held that courts are authorized to consider a juvenile’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution.

 

 

[1] 2018 WL 6133548 (Alaska Ct. App. 2018).

R.C. v. State

In R.C. v. State,[1] the court of appeals held that courts are authorized to consider a juvenile’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution.  In 2014, at the age of fifteen, R.C. and another juvenile started a damaging fire on an elementary school playground.  R.C. admitted guilt and was charged as a delinquent minor.  At the restitution proceedings, the State argued that R.C. and the other juvenile should be jointly and severely liable for the full amount of the damages caused by their actions, which would make R.C. (and his parents) personally liable for $159,161.71.  After acknowledging R.C.’s limited assets, the superior court adopted a payment schedule that addressed R.C.’s ability to pay, but that did not adjust the amount owed on that basis.  R.C. appealed this ruling, arguing that he did not have the financial means to pay the restitution amount, and that the trial court should have considered this when determining the amount of restitution to be ordered.  The court of appeals vacated and remanded the trial court’s decision, finding that R.C.’s argument was supported by the plain meaning and legislative intent of section 47.12.120(b)(4) of the Alaska Statutes.  The court of appeals distinguished restitution proceedings for adults, where ability to pay may not be considered, from those for minors by focusing on the statutory language requiring that restitution for minors be “suitable.”  The court reasoned that this indicated financial information from the minor and the minor’s parents should be considered in setting the amount of restitution.  Moreover, the court of appeals asserted that both the legislative history of the statute and prior caselaw indicated that in the State of Alaska restitution is designed to not just be helpful to the victim, but to also aid in the rehabilitative process.  It explained that setting restitution for minors above what could possibly be paid would be detrimental to the rehabilitative process cutting against the purpose of the juvenile justice system.  Vacating and remanding the lower court’s decision, the court of appeals held that courts are authorized to consider a juvenile’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution.

 

 

[1] 2018 WL 6133548 (Alaska Ct. App. 2018).