Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Restitution Not Owed for Arrest Costs, West Virginia Court Holds

Petitioner Michael John McGill appealed his December 2010 state conviction for escape from home confinement while on bail and the sentencing judge’s order that he pay $8,261.56 in “restitution to the State for costs associated with apprehending him following his unauthorized departure from home confinement.”

According to a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals, “A group of thirty-seven law enforcement officers identified in the record as members of the West Virginia and Federal Fugitive Task Force undertook the recapture of Petitioner when it was discovered that he had fled West Virginia.... It took nine days for the task force to recapture Petitioner.”

The Court disagreed with McGill’s argument that he was on pretrial bail and not in formal custody of the county sheriff as part of the bail arrangement, noting that his crime of escape was statutory under West Virginia Code §§ 61-5-10 and 61-3-13. The Court did, however, concur that “the statute authorizing restitution does not contemplate the inclusion of the State as a victim of crime. The State agrees and confesses error.”

West Virginia’s Victim Protection Act of 1984, §§ 61-11A-1 to 8 provides for restitution to victims of crime, but the trial court failed to heed the language of the statute that relates to bodily injury of individual victims, costs related to medical care and reimbursement for stolen or damaged property. “Clearly neither damage to society as a whole nor the cost of apprehension and investigation incurred by the government apprehending criminals are contemplated by this statutory language,” the Supreme Court of Appeals wrote.

Rather, to recover pursuant to the restitution statute, the victim must be a “direct victim” under the doctrine of State v. Lucas, 201 W.Va. 271, 496 S.E. 2d 221 (W. Va. 1997).

The Court affirmed McGill’s underlying conviction but reversed as to the restitution order, and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings. See: State of West Virginia v. McGill, 230 W.Va. 85, 736 S.E.2d 85 (W. Va. 2012).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login