STATE v. SILAS S., SC 18529

Judicial District of Fairfield at G.A. 2

 

Criminal; Probationary Conditions; Restitution; Whether Trial Court Properly Ordered Defendant, who had Trespassed upon Certain Property, to make Restitution to the Property Owners Even Though he did not Cause any Damage to the Property. In 2007, the defendant and a number of other teenagers attended a party at a house without the knowledge or consent of its owners. Consequently, the state accused the defendant of having trespassed upon the property, and, after a trial to the court, the court adjudicated him as a youthful offender for committing the crime of criminal trespass in the second degree. The court subsequently sentenced him to a term of incarceration of ninety days, execution suspended, and a period of probation of two years. As a special condition of probation, the court ordered the defendant to make restitution to the owners of the property in the amount of $2000. The defendant appealed, claiming that the court's restitution order was improper. The Appellate Court (118 Conn. App. 236) agreed, finding that the restitution order failed to satisfy General Statutes 53a-30 (a) (4), which authorizes a court to order a defendant to "make restitution of the fruits of the defendant's offense or make restitution, in an amount the defendant can afford to pay or provide in a suitable manner, for the loss or damage caused thereby and the court may fix the amount thereof and the manner of performance. . . ." The Appellate Court reasoned that the trial court failed to find, and the evidence failed to establish, that the defendant had caused any damage to the property or that he had profited from his criminal activity. It emphasized that, to the contrary, a police detective testified that only two individuals caused property damage to the house, neither of whom was the defendant. It also noted that two of the partygoers testified that they did not observe the defendant causing any damage to the property. It further determined that the restitution order was not authorized by General Statutes 53a-30 (a) (17), which permits a court to impose any probationary condition that is "reasonably related to the defendant's rehabilitation." It found that, due to the lack of any evidence that the defendant profited at the expense of the property owners or that he caused them to suffer any measurable loss, there was no basis to conclude that any payment to them would have a legitimate rehabilitative effect on the defendant. Based upon the foregoing, the Appellate Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the defendant to pay restitution to the property owners. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court's decision was proper.