MCVRC … Helping to Define Restitution for Victims, Part II

Upper Marlboro, Maryland — In its June 4, 2019, decision in Shannon v. State of Maryland, No. 2378, 2017 Term, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals referenced a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling which better defined victims’ rights for restitution, a precedent-setting case in which MCVRC was acknowledged as playing an important role.

In the previous case (In re: G.R., No. 32, 2018 Term), MCVRC submitted a “friend of the court” amicus brief, arguing that restitution is proper even when there is no physical damage from a crime and even when the damage occurs at the place far removed from the scene of the crime, if the crime diminishes the value of a victim’s property. 

MCVRC’s argument led to the Maryland Court of Appeals overturning an intermediate appellate court ruling that disallowed restitution for the victim’s cost of rekeying the locks on his family’s homes after he had been robbed of his keys because the robbery of keys “caused no immediate damage to any of the locks.” In its April 1, 2019, decision to reverse, Maryland’s highest court cited and adopted MCVRC’s argument and stated that the “diminished value” was the lack of security from the compromised house locks. 

In Shannon v. State of Maryland, after a local gang threatened to burn down a resident’s home, the resident fled, forfeiting a housing security deposit and first month’s rent. In upholding the lower court’s ruling ordering the defendant to pay restitution to the victim for both of these sums, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals referenced the decision in In re: G.R. and quoted with attribution MCVRC’s amicus brief in the earlier case. The court held that “In re G.R. teaches that restitution may encompass expenses incurred to remediate the ‘security and sanctity’ of a victim’s home after it has been compromised as a ‘direct result’ of the defendant’s criminal conduct.” 

MCVRC is a statewide Maryland non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that the rights of victims of crime are fully implemented and that crime victims are treated with dignity and compassion.  MCVRC offers free legal representation and grief counseling, counseling, and other assistance.  MCVRC makes its free services available to victims including family members of homicide victims and can be reached, toll free at 1-877-VICTIM1 and at 301-952-0063.