Wednesday, July 10, 2013

No Restitution For "Victim" of Possession of Stolen Firearm

US v. Davis: Davis broke into a home, stole a gun, ammo, and some jewelry, then escaped into the woods, where was apprehended (with the ammo and jewelry, but not the gun).  He pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen firearm.  The PSR identified the homeowner as a "victim" of Davis's offense and noted that he submitted a claim for $695 in restitution.  However, the PSR also noted that no restitution was applicable in this case absent some agreement between the parties (of which there was none - the plea agreement merely referenced the restitution statute).  Regardless, at sentencing, the district court ordered Davis to pay restitution to the homeowner.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit reversed.  First, the court held that the homeowner was not a "victim" for restitution purposes because the statutory definition limits the definition of victim to the elements of the offense of conviction, not other conduct engaged in by the defendant.  Second, the court held that the plea agreement's reference to the restitution statute was not an agreement by the parties for Davis to pay restitution to anyone outside that statutory definition of "victim."  The court's order was therefore erroneous, plainly so, and affected Davis's substantial rights.  The court noticed the plain error and remanded.

NOTE: This case was decided on May 1, 2013.

No comments: