District Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable Charlene
Barlow No. 131400410
Nathalie S. Skibine and Heather J. Chesnut, Attorneys for
D. Reyes and Tera J. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee
Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory
K. Orme and Michele M. Christiansen concurred.
Ryan Mooers was charged with burglary and theft after a
family returned from vacation to find that their house had
been broken into and jewelry and coins stolen. Mooers entered
a plea in abeyance to the theft charge, and the State dropped
the burglary charge. As part of his plea in abeyance, among
other conditions, Mooers was to pay restitution for the
stolen items and for damage to the family's property that
resulted from the criminal activity. He appeals the
restitution order only with respect to the cost of installing
security bars on the bedroom window used to enter the house,
arguing that because the window did not have security bars
prior to the burglary, the bars "are not economic injury
or pecuniary damage, but a security improvement the victims
decided to make to their house." We agree with Mooers that
the expense of security bars is not a pecuniary damage
suffered by the family and vacate the portion of the
restitution order addressing the installation costs.
The family's house was burglarized in November
2012.The family's daughter (Daughter) had a
basement bedroom. Its window was broken, and "there was
glass everywhere, " which damaged the carpet.
"[A]pproximately $3, 200 of jewelry and coins" were
stolen. A detective checked the records of pawn stores and
found that Mooers "had pawned jewelry [in November 2012]
and that the descriptions appeared to match jewelry
descriptions provided by" the mother (Mother). Mother
"went to the pawn shop, examined what [Mooers] had
pawned, identified it as her property and was able to
purchase it back."
Following the burglary, Daughter no longer felt safe in her
bedroom and "wouldn't go to the basement by
herself." She would not sleep in her bedroom and instead
"slept on the couch." Mother accompanied her
whenever Daughter went to the basement to retrieve her
clothes or to do her laundry. One month after the burglary,
Mother and her husband (Father) decided to install security
bars in Daughter's bedroom window to "[g]ive her
security." After the bars were installed, Daughter
returned to sleeping in her bedroom.
Daughter believed that a friend of hers (Friend) might have
been a suspect, as Friend had stolen from her in the past.
Friend "claimed that she had nothing to do with the
burglary and suggested that maybe . . . [Mooers] might be
involved." As the investigation continued, other
individuals came forward to report that Mooers and Friend had
broken into the family's house and "[came] out
carrying a bunch of stuff" including "jewelry and
coins." In the declaration of probable cause, a
detective claimed that, when interviewed, Mooers
"admitted that he and [Friend] broke into the house,
stole jewelry and that he pawned it."
The State charged Mooers with burglary, a second degree
felony, see Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-202
(LexisNexis 2017),  and theft, a third degree felony, see
id. § 76-6-404. As the result of a plea agreement,
Mooers agreed to plead guilty to theft, attend a theft class,
and pay restitution to the family. In exchange, the State
agreed to drop the burglary charge. The district court
accepted Mooers's plea and held it in abeyance for
eighteen months. The court "[gave] the State 90 days to
determine the restitution."
The State filed a motion for restitution in the amount of $5,
760.50-$4, 660.50 to cover the "value of stolen items,
window repair, and carpet replacement, " and $1, 100 for
"the cost of placing bars on the window used to access
the stolen items." The court set a restitution hearing
at which Daughter and Mother testified about why the security
bars were installed on Daughter's bedroom window.
Following the hearing, "the court continued the matter
for briefing, " and the State argued in its brief that,
based on the "modified but for" test for determining
whether restitution is appropriate, the need for these
security bars would not have been necessary if the burglary
had not occurred; Mooers admitted to aiding others into the
house; and the family paid the down payment for the security
bars within weeks of the burglary.
Mooers objected to the State's motion, arguing that the
$1, 100 cost for the security bars was not pecuniary damages
but were instead "voluntary expense[s] incurred by the .
. . family after the theft had taken place." He also
argued that, "while the theft may have influenced the
family's decision to incur this expense, this does not
make it 'pecuniary damages' resulting from Mr.
Mooers's 'criminal activity.'" (Quoting Utah
Code Ann. § 76-3-201(4)(a) (LexisNexis 2017).) In
addition, he argued that because he "did not plead
guilty to burglary[, ] he is not responsible for the cost of
installing the security bars."
The district court concluded that restitution for the cost of
installing the security bars on the bedroom window was
appropriate. It found that Daughter's fear "was a
direct result of the break-in for which [Mooers] admitted
criminal responsibility, " even though he did not plead
guilty to burglary. Because the family "would not have
paid to install security bars except for the criminal conduct
for which [Mooers] accepted responsibility, " and
because the decision to install the bars was not factually or
temporally attenuated from the criminal conduct, the court
ordered Mooers to pay the entire restitution amount requested
by the State. Mooers appeals.
Mooers contends the district court exceeded its discretion in
ordering restitution for installing security bars on
Daughter's bedroom window because they "are not an
economic injury or pecuniary damage, " as required by
Utah Code section 77-38a-302, but they are instead "a
security improvement" to the house. We "will not
disturb a [district] court's restitution order unless it
exceeds that prescribed by law or [the court] otherwise