RECENT DEVELOPMENT: C. UNITED STATES V. HICKS: THE VICTIM WITNESS PROTECTION ACT PRECLUDES RESTITUTION FOR EMOTIONAL INJURY IN THE ABSENCE OF PHYSICAL INJURY * Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1994 Journal of Contemporary Law
Journal of Contemporary Law

RECENT DEVELOPMENT: C. UNITED STATES V. HICKS: THE VICTIM WITNESS PROTECTION ACT PRECLUDES RESTITUTION FOR EMOTIONAL INJURY IN THE ABSENCE OF PHYSICAL INJURY *



* Elizabeth P. Miller, Junior Staff Member, Journal of Contemporary Law.

1994

20 J. Contemp. L. 195

Excerpt

1. Introduction

The Ninth Circuit recently interpreted the Victim Witness Protection Act (VWPA) as foreclosing restitution awards to victims suffering from emotional, but not physical injury. 1 The purpose of restitution is to "require[] the criminal offender to pay money or to render services to his victim in order to redress the loss he has inflicted." 2 According to the language of the VWPA, only losses associated with physical injury may be redressed. Moreover, the majority of courts reason that not only is emotional injury too speculative to compensate, but the plain language of the statute does not allow such recovery. As a result, victims suffering from emotional, but not physical, injury are not compensated for their loss.
 
2. The Case

In United States v. Hicks, Hicks pleaded guilty to car bombing and launching mortars at IRS buildings throughout California. 3 The trial court included in Hicks' restitution order the cost of psychological counseling for IRS employees. 4 Hicks appealed and the Ninth Circuit reversed the restitution order because no IRS employees suffered physical injury. 5 The court held that "the cost of psychological counseling can be included in a restitution order only when the victim has suffered physical injury." 6

The Hicks court reasoned that their power to order restitution came from 18 U.S.C. 3663. 7 The court adhered to the well settled rule that restitution may only be awarded for the categories enumerated in section 3663. 8 Section 3663(b) provides in ...
 
 
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