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State v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

January 16, 2018

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Dejonte Antwon Davis, Respondent.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jonathan P. Schmidt, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Erik I. Withall, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Jesson, Judge; and Florey, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         A district court cannot require a victim to forgo reasonable restitution for out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of a crime only because the defendant is in prison and does not have the ability to pay.

          OPINION

          JESSON, Judge.

         In a second-degree-murder case, the district court denied all restitution for the victim, the decedent's spouse, finding that respondent Dejonte Antwon Davis would be unable to pay the $7, 710.11 for the funeral expenses and the spouse's lost wages and still afford necessities while incarcerated. Because the district court's denial of restitution failed to provide for the victim's right to restitution, we reverse and remand.

         FACTS

         Respondent Davis was convicted of second-degree murder following a jury trial. He was sentenced to 366 months in prison. At the sentencing hearing, the district court kept the issue of restitution open for 60 days. The court then issued a restitution order requiring Davis to pay $7, 710.11 in restitution to the decedent's spouse. The amount of restitution was based on the decedent's funeral and cremation costs and the victim's lost wages, all payable to the Crime Victims Reparations Board.[1] Because the restitution amount exceeded $2, 500, Davis was provided the duration of his sentence to pay the full amount.

         Davis objected to the restitution order and demanded a hearing. He submitted an affidavit, claiming the expenses were too high and that he will not have the resources to pay restitution while in the custody of the Department of Corrections until approximately 2036.

         At the restitution hearing, Davis reiterated his assertion that the claimed restitution expenses were too high, but focused his testimony on his inability to pay. In answering questions from the court, Davis explained that he did not have financial resources going into prison. While working in prison, Davis makes $0.25 per hour. Davis informed the court that the most he could make would be $1.00 an hour, but no matter what he makes, he "only see[s] half of" those prison wages. The state argued the expenses requested were reasonable restitution and presented documentation for the expenses claimed.

         After the hearing, the district court granted Davis's challenge and revoked its previous restitution order in full. The court found that the expenses sought were all appropriate for restitution, the costs were reasonable, and the victim was deserving. But the court also found Davis's argument about his inability to pay persuasive. The court stated, "it would appear that Mr. Davis's potential earning capacity in prison will not enable him to make payments against the restitution while also affording other necessities in prison." The restitution decision, the district court explained, was "to restrict the garnishing of Mr. Davis's prison wages so that he can purchase the basic essentials of life."

         The state appeals.

         ISSUE

         Did the district court abuse its discretion by failing to provide any restitution to a ...


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