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Juvenile Law

Shawn R. McCarver, Esquire

Restitution award in the amount of $4,000 against juvenile and mother is affirmed where it would be unfair to the victim to receive less than full restitution because cap set forth in Section 211.185.9, RSMo would not allow more culpable boys to have higher amounts assessed to them and where juvenile did not offer any evidence of inability to pay because of a specific cause such as physical or mental impairment. Juvenile has no standing to raise claim for Mother, who did not appeal, that court should not have ordered Mother to be jointly responsible for juvenile's restitution. In Interest of N.J., No. 30621 (Mo. App. S.D. June 21, 2011), Barney, P.J.

Juvenile entered a vacant residence with his older sister and two older males, who were brothers. The group broke down the front door and committed numerous acts of property damage. The court found juvenile less culpable than the other boys, but adjudicated juvenile as a delinquent. Juvenile was committed to DYS, but the commitment was stayed. A restitution hearing was held and the total was $13,689.82. The court said it wanted to assess eighty or ninety percent against the two brothers, but was hampered by the $4,000.00 cap of Section 211.185.9, RSMo. Respondent requested the statutory maximum against juvenile, but Appellant (juvenile) argued the amount should only be $2,000.00. Juvenile's attorney did not argue that the court failed to properly apply the law or any particular statute. Juvenile appeals the trial court's order of $4,000.00 assessed against juvenile and his mother.

Juvenile alleged that the trial court failed to follow Section 211.185, RSMo by failing to consider what amount was reasonable in light of juvenile's ability to pay. Juvenile argues he is indigent and too young to gain meaningful employment. The general rule is that a juvenile is responsible for his own torts. The legislature has acknowledged, by enactment of Section 211.181.3(7), RSMo and Section 211.185, RSMo, that minors with limited means may be required to pay restitution. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering $4,000.00 where the court noted it would be unfair that the victim not receive full restitution because of the statutory cap, and where juvenile did not offer any evidence of his inability to pay.

Held: Restitution affirmed. Juvenile also alleged that the court should not have ordered restitution jointly against juvenile and his mother. Mother did not appeal, and juvenile has no standing to raise this issue for Mother.

The Missouri Bar Courts Bulletin, 11-Jul