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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court rules on restitution and ability to pay

In Jeffrey Pearson v. State of Indiana, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

When a trial court orders restitution either as a condition of probation or as a condition of a suspended sentence, it is required to inquire into the defendant’s ability to pay. Although the trial court did not make such an inquiry in this case, we nonetheless affirm its judgment because the defendant did not raise his inability to pay restitution as an issue on appeal. * * *

Thus, “when restitution is ordered as a condition of probation or a suspended sentence, the trial court must inquire into the defendant’s ability to pay in order to prevent indigent defendants from being imprisoned because of their inability to pay.” Ladd v. State, 710 N.E.2d 188, 192 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999) (emphasis added). In the case before us the trial court made no such inquiry. However, for reasons explained below we disagree with our colleagues on the Court of Appeals that this matter should be remanded to the trial court. * * *

The expiration of Pearson’s one-year probationary term does not terminate his obligation to pay restitution. And because Pearson does challenge the amount of restitution or his ability to pay $150.00 per month in discharge of his obligation, there is no need to remand this cause to the trial court. Conclusion We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 27, 2008 01:35 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions