“Restitution” is when a defendant has to pay money to an individual to compensate the individual’s economic losses. In Michigan, restitution is mandatory in a criminal case when the victim has suffered an economic loss. For example, the criminal defendant who commits a theft of the victim’s property will have to pay the victim money for that stolen property.
What is often difficult when it comes to restitution is how it should be calculated. Michigan law states that restitution must be based on the value of the property. Michigan courts have interpreted that to mean the monetary or fair market value of the property, or, in other words, “what a ready, willing, and able buyer would pay for the property on the open market.”
Court of Appeals decided it was an error on it’s part
In the recent Michigan Court of Appeals case of People v. Weaver, the court further defined how restitution is calculated when it comes to a damaged vehicle. The Court of Appeals decided it was an error on the trial court’s part to calculate restitution based on how much it would cost to repair the vehicle. The judges at the Michigan Court of Appeals said, “The cost to repair a vehicle will—in many cases—bear no relationship to the vehicle’s fair market value.” Instead, the trial court should have ordered restitution based on the fair market value of the vehicle before the accident minus any value the vehicle retained after the accident.
As criminal defense attorneys, we recognize when restitution plays a role in a case. We understand the importance of discussing this issue with our clients before the client takes a guilty plea. We also know how to challenge an overstated claim for restitution. If you think restitution could be part of your case, it is best to consult with an expert attorney immediately.