Hearing is Mandatory When Calculating Restitution in Jefferson County, Alabama

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Crime doesn’t pay?” That phrase is especially relevant when talking about restitution. Restitution occurs in law when the person who was in the wrong is ordered to compensate the other party for that party’s injury or loss. Though it seems more civil in nature, restitution can even be ordered in criminal cases.

In Jefferson County, Alabama, Arnold v. State of Alabama addressed that making an error in calculating restitution can be a reversible error to that portion of the case.

In this case, Patrick Arnold was identified by neighbors loading furniture onto a truck owned by the victim, William Martin. Arnold was identified in a lineup and later found guilty by a jury both of burglary in the third degree and theft of property in the first degree.

On appeal, Arnold contended that the circuit court erred by assessing restitution without holding a restitution hearing. Restitution hearings are mandatory pursuant to the Alabama law. The Court explained that because the trial court based the restitution Arnold owed only a victim information sheet (submitted for purposes of cross-examination, not for a restitution hearing) that the requirements for determining restitution had not been met. As such the Court reversed the restitution portion of the trial court’s judgment.

Arnold raised a few other issues on appeal. Arnold argued that the judge should have recused herself because of outside knowledge she had of the case. However, the issue of recusal was waived because he did not assert it at the trial court level. Arnold also tried to appeal based on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. To prevail here, Arnold had to show (1) that his lawyer’s performance was unsatisfying and (2) that Arnold was prejudiced by said performance. However, Arnold could prove neither of those factors. Both of these issues were not grounds for a new trial, according to the Court.

Arnold made many arguments but the key takeaway comes from the restitution argument. If you have been charged with a crime and restitution is part of the sentence, it is essential that the court hold a hearing to calculate the restitution. The trial court’s only error, was in calculating the restitution improperly.

If you are charged with a crime and need a criminal lawyer, you should have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney on your side to ensure your rights are protected. Contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 236-3997 for an attorney with the experience and knowledge that can make all the difference.

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