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Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > Juvenile Crime > Does a Minor Have to Pay Restitution for Committing Theft in Florida?

Does a Minor Have to Pay Restitution for Committing Theft in Florida?


In Florida juvenile justice cases, it is common practice for the courts to require a minor adjudicated delinquent to pay restitution to any victims. Section 985.437 of the Florida Statutes provides, “While the primary purpose of restitution is to compensate the victim, it also serves the rehabilitative and deterrent goals of the juvenile justice system.” Restitution itself can be made in cash or through a promissory note co-signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian.

Appeals Court: No Restitution for Lost Income from Illegal Cosmetology Practice

Restitution is meant to be compensatory, not punitive. In other words, a court can only order restitution equal to the “damage or loss caused by the child’s offense.” This generally equates to the “fair market value” of the damage or loss. For example, if a teenager steals an item from a store with a retail value of $500, then the court may order that child to pay $500 in restitution to the store’s owner.

But what if the victim’s losses are actually the proceeds of illegal activity? The Florida First District Court of Appeal recently confronted this question. In S.L.L. v. State, law enforcement detained three minors accused of breaking into a house and stealing various items. One of the minors entered a “no contest” plea to charges of burglary and grand theft. The plea agreement required the minor to pay restitution to the victim.

At a hearing to determine the amount of restitution, the victim testified that she operated a cosmetology practice. She said the juvenile and his friends stole several items she used in her work. As a result of the theft, she had to cancel several weeks of hair and nail appointments, which meant lost income. Based on this testimony, the judge ordered the minor to pay $426 in restitution for the stolen supplies, and an additional $3,650 for the victim’s lost income.

The minor’s attorney appealed this part of the restitution order. The defense’s position was that the victim practiced cosmetology without a license, which was itself a crime under Florida law. As such, she could not claim any restitution based on her lost income.

Before the First District, the state agreed with the defense’s position. So did the Court of Appeal. It noted the practice of cosmetology without a license was a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. Since the victim had no legal right to that income, it could not form the basis for “establishing a market-based restitution award for lost wages.” Accordingly, the First District reversed that part of the trial court’s restitution order requiring the minor to pay $3,650 to the victim for her lost wages. (The minor still had to pay for the stolen supplies.)

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

If your child is facing a delinquency proceeding before the Florida courts, you want to make sure their rights are protected within the system. The best thing you can do to help your child is to hire an experienced Orlando juvenile crimes lawyer. Contact the Joshi Law Firm, P.A., today to schedule a free consultation.



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