When a defendant’s criminal actions cause loss or damage to a victim’s property, section 775.089, Florida Statutes, requires that the court order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. The purposes of section 775.089 are both to compensate the victim and to serve the rehabilitative, deterrent, and retributive goals of the criminal justice system. Recently, more and more cases have been decided in which the State was unable to prove the amount of loss sustained by the victim due to precise measurements of value and demanding methods of proof. In such cases, the purposes of restitution were not achieved because a wholly innocent victim was not compensated, and the defendant was not exposed to the true impact of his crime.
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently recommended revising section 775.089 to give the court broader discretion in determining restitution amounts, including permitting consideration of hearsay evidence. While the Fourth District Court’s recommendation offers a great starting point in changing the law to further the purposes of restitution, it does not adequately address important concerns, such as the appropriate measure of value, the reliability of hearsay evidence, and the defendant’s right to due process. To prevent unjust results for both the victim and the defendant, this Article concludes that the Florida Legislature should adopt the Fourth District Court’s recommendation, but with a few caveats that protect the integrity of the judicial system and provide due process to the defendant.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adam_hapner/1/