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In re A.B.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

October 28, 2016

IN RE: A.B.

          Meredith, Leahy, Albright, Anne K. (Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          ALBRIGHT, J.

         Appellant, A.B., appeals from the restitution order of the Circuit Court for Charles County, sitting as a juvenile court, entered after Appellant admitted involvement in a second-degree assault that left the victim with a broken nose and jaw. Appellant presents one question for our review:

Whether the trial court erred by failing to make any inquiry into Appellant's ability to pay the amount of restitution ordered?
Finding no error, we shall affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On October 5, 2015, the State filed a ten-count juvenile petition alleging Appellant's involvement, along with two co-respondents, in the July 24, 2015, assault of Justin M., then 20 years old, at the St. Charles Towne Center. On November 12, 2015, pursuant to a plea agreement, Appellant admitted involvement in one count of second-degree assault. Prior to Appellant's plea, the State indicated that it would be seeking restitution from Appellant and two co-respondents.

         As a factual basis for Appellant's plea, the parties agreed that Appellant and two co-respondents "began to punch [Justin M.] repeatedly in a way that broke [Justin M.'s] jaw and broke his nose. [Justin M.] was taken to George Washington Hospital, in D.C., and his jaw was wired shut, and there were many other health complications." As part of its temporary disposition, the court scheduled a restitution hearing for December 17, 2015.

         At the restitution hearing, the State sought $19, 470 in restitution for Justin M.'s medical expenses and lost wages, with this amount to be divided among the three respondents. After receiving evidence regarding the particulars of this sum, the court received testimony and argument from Appellant regarding his ability to pay. Disposition was then scheduled for December 30, 2015.

         On December 30, 2015, the court held a disposition hearing. After reviewing the Social History Investigation and Recommendation (including an accompanying Psychological Evaluation by Dr. Keith Hannan, Ph.D.) from the Department of Juvenile Services, then confirming that neither side had any corrections to it, and then hearing from the parties, the court placed Appellant on a period of indefinite probation and ordered, among other things, that he pay $6, 491.33 in restitution to Justin M. through the Department of Juvenile Services. No specific time limit or payment schedule was specified.

         This timely appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Several standards govern our review of a juvenile court restitution order. Legal conclusions invite de novo review. First-level findings of fact are reviewed for clear error. And the decision to require restitution, as well as the amount, are reviewed for abuse of discretion. See In re Don Mc., 344 Md. 194, 201(1996); In re Earl F., 208 Md.App. 269, 275, 275 n.2 (2012); In re Delric H., 150 Md.App. 234, 240 (2003). Appellant concedes, correctly, that the proper standard of review here is abuse of discretion.

         DISCUSSION

         Appellant contends that the trial court erred by failing to make any inquiry into Appellant's ability to pay the amount of restitution ordered. The State counters that Respondent did not preserve this argument and, in the alternative, that given the evidence that was presented about Appellant's ability to pay, the court's ...


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