Restitution - Victims’ Travel Expenses

Criminal Law Update

People v Garrison,495 Mich 362; 852 NW2d 45 (2014)(may’14). Defendant stole property from various vacation homes in Cheboygan County. While the case was pending, three victims of defendant's theft traveled back and forth from their primary residences in order to secure their stolen property and attend a restitution hearing. At the hearing, the victims testified that they had incurred travel expenses related to these trips in the amount of $1,125. The sentencing court included $977 of this amount in its restitution order over defense counsel's objection. Defendant appealed, and the COA reversed the lower court on this issue. This case involves two related statutory schemes: the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim's Rights Act (CVRA) and Michigan's general restitution statute. The issue was whether these statutes authorize courts to order restitution for the reasonable travel expenses that victims incur from the crime against them. The MSC concluded that the statutes do authorize travel expense payments because they require courts to order full restitution that is “complete and maximal.”