FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04JV-17-765]
HONORABLE THOMAS SMITH, JUDGE
Katalina Wyninger, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
October 23, 2017, appellant J.L. pleaded true to one count of
theft by receiving, a Class C felony, and one count of
breaking or entering, a Class D felony, in the juvenile
division of the Benton County Circuit Court. Following a
restitution hearing held on January 22, 2018, J.L. was
ordered to pay $4302 in restitution. On appeal, J.L. argues
that the circuit court erred in ordering him to pay
restitution for an offense with which he was neither charged
nor adjudicated delinquent and that the circuit court erred
when it found J.L.'s actions were the proximate cause of
the damages. We affirm.
J.L. pleaded true to theft by receiving after he was arrested
for driving a stolen automobile. At the adjudication hearing,
the testimony established that J.L. was in possession of a
white Nissan that he was able to steal because the keys had
been left inside the vehicle. Additionally, J.L. broke into
another car to try and find money. At the conclusion of the
adjudication hearing, the State requested a restitution
hearing because there was a substantial amount of damage done
to the Nissan. J.L. contested the amount of restitution, and
the circuit court set a restitution hearing for December 11,
2017. When J.L. did not appear at the hearing, the matter was
reset, and a second restitution hearing was held on January
22, 2018. J.L. again failed to appear, but the circuit court
heard testimony regarding the damage to the vehicle and the
costs of repair.
restitution hearing, the victim testified that she reported
her vehicle stolen in August 2017. She explained that before
it was stolen, the front right side and headlight of the
vehicle were damaged. She further explained that after the
vehicle was recovered, the back-left bumper had two big dents
in it and the wheels were bent. The manager of an auto-body
repair shop testified that based on his experience he
believed the damage was from impact. He further testified
regarding the costs of repair. He estimated that repairs to
the vehicle would cost $4672. He admitted that the estimate
included a fee of $370 for detailing the vehicle, changing
the oil, and flushing the radiator. At the conclusion of the
hearing, the circuit court ordered restitution in the amount
of $4302. This appeal followed.
appeal, J.L. contends he should not have to make restitution
because he was not adjudicated delinquent due to criminal
mischief. He also argues that he should be precluded from
making restitution because the State did not present evidence
to support the circuit court's finding that J.L.'s
actions were the proximate cause of the damages. We are not
correct application and interpretation of an Arkansas statute
is a question of law, which we decide de novo. State v.
V.H., 2013 Ark. 344, 429 S.W.3d 243. The basic rule of
statutory construction to which all interpretive guides must
yield is to give effect to the intent of the General
Assembly. Id. When reviewing issues of statutory
interpretation, the first rule in considering the meaning and
effect of a statute is to construe it just as it reads,
giving the words their ordinary and usually accepted meaning.
Id. We will not engage in statutory interpretations
that defy common sense and produce absurd results. W.J.S.
v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 310, at 3-4, 495 S.W.3d 649,
plain language of the relevant statutes in the juvenile code
does not support J.L.'s argument. A "delinquent
juvenile" is defined as a juvenile who is ten years old
or older who committed an act other than a traffic offense or
game and fish violation that, if the act had been committed
by an adult, would subject the adult to prosecution for a
felony, misdemeanor, or violation under the applicable
criminal laws of this state. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-303(a)(15)(A)(1) (Repl. 2015). Further, if a juvenile is
found to be delinquent, the circuit court may enter an order
of restitution to be paid by the juvenile, a parent, both
parents, the guardian, or his or her custodian. Ark. Code
Ann. § 9-27-330(a)(7)(A). An adult who commits theft by
receiving would be subject to restitution. See Fortson v.
State, 66 Ark.App. 225, 989 S.W.2d 553 (1999). Thus, it
was not necessary for J.L. to be adjudicated for any offense
other than theft by receiving to impose restitution.
J.L. contends the State failed to establish that he was the
proximate cause of the damage to the vehicle. An order of
restitution is authorized by statute only after proof by a
preponderance of the evidence that specific damages were
caused by the juvenile and that the juvenile's actions
were the proximate cause of the damage. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-331(e)(1). Restitution is the actual economic loss
sustained by an individual or entity as a proximate result of
the delinquent acts of a juvenile. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-303(50)(A) (Supp. 2017). Such economic loss shall
include, but not be limited to, expenses for repair or
replacement of property. Ark. Code Ann. §
J.L. pleaded true to one count of theft by receiving, and it
is undisputed that he was driving the stolen vehicle.
Likewise, there was uncontroverted testimony that before the
vehicle was stolen there was no damage to the back bumper and
wheels and that once it was recovered, there was damage to
the bumper and wheels. Based on these circumstances, we
cannot say the circuit court's finding that J.L. caused
the damage to the vehicle was clearly against the
preponderance of the evidence.
Harrison and ...