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147391 - People v McKinley (Matthew)

The People of the State of Michigan,
 
Marc Crotteau
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Calhoun – Sindt, C.)
 
Matthew Charles McKinley a/k/a Jeffrey Alan Newbold,
 
Christopher M. Smith
 
Defendant-Appellant.
 

Summary

​Defendant Matthew McKinley was arrested for stealing several commercial air conditioning units with the assistance of a teenaged accomplice. The victims included two churches, a community college, and a local business. A jury convicted McKinley of malicious destruction of property over $20,000, and inducing a minor to commit a felony; an additional larceny conviction was later vacated on appeal. The trial court sentenced McKinley to serve 12 to 25 years in prison, and also ordered McKinley to pay $158,180.44 in restitution to the victims of his crimes.  The restitution order was intended to compensate the four victims of the charged crimes, as well as additional victims of uncharged crimes. Evidence regarding the costs allegedly incurred by these additional victims was presented to the trial court through the testimony of a police officer at a post-trial hearing. 

 McKinley raised several issues on appeal, including a challenge to the restitution order, which he argued was unconstitutional. Article 1, § 24 of the Michigan Constitution states that crime victims have the “right to restitution.”  The Crime Victim’s Rights Act provides that the sentencing court “shall order . . . that the defendant make full restitution to any victim of the defendant’s course of conduct that gives rise to the conviction or to the victim’s estate.”  MCL 780.766(2).  McKinley argued that Michigan’s restitution scheme is unconstitutional because it permits the trial court to impose restitution on the basis of facts that were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal restitution is a penalty, McKinley argued; under controlling United States Supreme Court precedent, such as Southern Union Co v United States, 567 US __ (2012), and Apprendi v New Jersey, 530 US 466 (2000), any act that increases the amount of restitution must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor argued in response that the proper standard was a preponderance of the evidence, relying on People v Gahan, 456 Mich 264 (1997) (stating that where a defendant’s “course of conduct” includes both charged and uncharged crimes, the defendant should compensate for “all the losses attributable to the illegal scheme that culminated in his conviction,” and imposing a preponderance of the evidence standard).  

The Court of Appeals agreed with the prosecutor, and affirmed the trial court’s restitution order in an unpublished per curiam opinion. The panel concluded that the trial court complied with the procedure set forth in Gahan, which required the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing to resolve any dispute over the amount of restitution owed, and placed the burden on the prosecution to establish the proper amount of restitution, by a preponderance of the evidence.  The panel agreed that, under Apprendi, if a factual finding is used to elevate a sentence above a statutory maximum, due process requires proof of that fact beyond a reasonable doubt. But this law did not apply here, held the Court of Appeals, because there is no prescribed statutory maximum under Michigan’s restitution scheme. “The purpose of restitution is to make victims whole for the losses they have suffered as a result of a defendant’s criminal course of conduct . . . .  And the amount of restitution a court may order varies based on the damage caused by the defendant’s course of conduct. Therefore, Apprendi is inapplicable to Michigan’s restitution scheme.” 

McKinley appealed, and the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal on November 20, 2013, limited to the issues: (1) whether restitution is equivalent to a criminal penalty; and (2) whether Michigan’s statutory restitution scheme is unconstitutional to the extent that it permits the trial court to order restitution based on uncharged conduct that was not submitted to a jury or proven beyond a reasonable doubt.