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State v. Morrison

Court of Appeals of Utah

April 4, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Chad Everett Morrison, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul B. Parker No. 161910294

          Dayna Moore, Attorney for Appellant

          Simarjit S. Gill and Ann P. Boyle, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Michele M. Christiansen Forster concurred.

          POHLMAN, JUDGE

         ¶1 As part of a criminal sentence, a defendant may be ordered to make restitution for any pecuniary damages proximately caused by his crime. Chad Everett Morrison, after pleading guilty to assaulting his roommate (Roommate), was ordered to pay Roommate's moving expenses and lost wages. But Roommate was already planning on moving, and a private investigator testified that Roommate was let go from a temporary assignment a day after the assault due to a reduced workload. Morrison now appeals, contending that these facts demonstrate that the moving expenses and lost wages were not proximately caused by his crime. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On September 29, 2016, Morrison pushed Roommate into a wall and punched him several times. In the altercation, a television was destroyed, and a dresser and a nightstand were damaged. The State charged Morrison with assault and criminal mischief.

         ¶3 Morrison pled guilty to assault, and in exchange the State dismissed the criminal mischief charge. Morrison stipulated, however, to paying restitution-which was thought to be no more than $500 based on the charging document-on the dismissed criminal mischief charge. After sentencing, the State filed a motion for restitution in the amount of $6, 818.42. Morrison disputed that figure, and the district court scheduled an evidentiary hearing to determine the appropriate restitution amount.[1]

         ¶4 At the hearing, Roommate testified that he had "to move as a result" of the assault.[2] Expenses for the move included $35 for an application fee, $200 for a security deposit, $333.25 for the services of a professional moving company, and $70.28 for one month's increased rent.[3]

         ¶5 On cross-examination, Roommate conceded that he and his girlfriend (Girlfriend) "had planned to leave before [the assault] happened." According to his testimony, Roommate and Girlfriend "really wanted [their] own place" and had told Morrison that they "planned to move in the next couple of months." Because Girlfriend was pregnant, Roommate hired a professional moving company that "moved everything." When asked whether he tried to "rent a truck" in order to move himself, Roommate responded, "No. There was me and a pregnant female to move an entire apartment, so . . . ."

         ¶6 Roommate also testified that he "missed work" due to the assault. Roommate worked with a staffing agency and requested reimbursement for a total of ten days of lost wages, explaining that four days were used to "recover[] from the assault itself" and the "six additional days" were for "moving, finding apartments and making sure [they] had a place to live come the first of the month."[4] Roommate testified that he was told by the staffing agency to take "as much time as [he] needed to get everything figured out." On cross- examination, Roommate testified that he had a temporary position through the staffing agency at a company (the Company). But Roommate also testified that he was "supposed to get hired on there" permanently and that "[b]ecause [he] was unable to show up for those four days," the Company "decided that [it was not] going to move forward with [his] contract."

         ¶7 The defense called a private investigator who testified that he spoke with the staffing agency and that Roommate's temporary position at the Company was terminated "early because of workload." The investigator testified that Roommate's temporary position "ended on September 30th of 2016 . . . because they ran out of work or they didn't need an extra person."

         ¶8 The district court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law. As for the moving costs, the court found that although Roommate and Girlfriend "were planning to move anyway," Morrison's assault "caused the victim and his girlfriend to move earlier than planned" and "that it is difficult and more expensive to be forced to relocate early rather than as planned." It then found the $35 application fee, the $200 security deposit, the $333.25 professional-movers expense, and the ...


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