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State of Louisiana v. Phillip Jarratt
Case Number: 53,525-KA
Judge: D. Milton Moore III
Court: COURT OF APPEAL
STATE OF LOUISIANA
Plaintiff's Attorney: JOHN F.K. BELTON, JR.
CLIFFORD ROYCE STRIDER, III
E. MICHAEL MAHAFFEY
Assistant District Attorneys
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The defendant, Phillip Jarratt, was hired in mid-2017 as a finance and
insurance manager for Premier Autoplex (“Premier”), a used car sales
dealership, in Farmerville, Louisiana. Premier was selling approximately
45-60 cars per month at that time. Jarratt was responsible for processing the
paperwork of each car sale, including clearing the financing with the bank
that “floor-planned” the vehicle and receiving down payments from
purchasers. Customers made their down payments by cash, check or credit
Beginning in late November 2017, Jarratt began to keep some of the
cash down payments, and he withheld processing the paperwork of the sales
to avoid detection. Toward the end of March 2018, a Premier office
manager notified the company owners that there were vehicles listed on the
books that were no longer on the car lot. An inventory was performed which
indicated about 15 vehicles were missing. An investigation revealed that
Jarratt had been “scooting aside” vehicles, meaning that while the cars were
listed in the inventory, they were, in fact, no longer at the dealership.
Once he learned what was happening, Premier owner/manager
Gordon Grant III approached Jarratt to discuss the matter. Grant recalled
that Jarratt asked him if he could postpone their meeting so he could go and
buy a pack of cigarettes or go to lunch. Grant consented. Jarratt left the
dealership and never returned. Premier terminated Jarratt and notified the
Union Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Eventually Jarratt was located on April 16, 2018, at the Rayville
Recovery Center in Richland Parish. According to Jarratt’s ex-wife, he
checked himself in the facility for an opioid addiction. When asked, postMiranda, about the theft, Jarratt confessed. He was arrested and taken to the
Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office where he was again given Miranda
warnings. Jarratt then made a recorded statement to officers.
In the recorded and transcribed statement, Jarratt admitted that he had
taken the cash down payments of customers, but no checks. He stated that it
was because of his opioid addiction – an addiction he claimed to have
struggled with for 20 years. He said he was clean and sober at the time he
became employed with Premier. Jarratt told officers that he stole $20,000 to
$26,000 and stated that he wanted to make restitution, and there were
individuals to help in that regard.
Premier filed a claim with its insurer, AmTrust North America
(“AmTrust”), submitting a proof of loss statement on April 18, 2018,
totaling $36,520. Premier’s policy required a $1,000 deductible, and
AmTrust covered the remaining $35,520 loss of down payments.
The two-day trial began on July 29, 2019. The first day was devoted
to Jarratt’s motion to suppress wherein he contended that his confession was
invalid because he was under the influence of narcotics. The record reveals
that Jarratt was consuming 15 to 30 milligrams of Oxycontin per day, which
is considered a very high dosage. After hearing the evidence and argument,
the trial court denied the motion to suppress.
The state presented testimony from the investigating officers and
Gordon Grant and three of the customers who made cash down payments to
Premier through Jarratt for the purchase of a vehicle. Jarratt’s confession
was admitted into evidence and played for the jury wherein he admitted to
taking up to $26,000.
Gordon Grant testified that the actual loss according to the
documentary evidence was $36,520, which was the total of the cash down
payments which Jarratt removed from the receipt book. AmTrust paid
Premier on its claim and, on November 5, 2018, submitted a request for
restitution to the Union Parish District Attorney’s Office stating it paid out
$36,520 to Premier. However, Grant identified a letter to Premier from
AmTrust accompanied by a settlement check in the amount of $35,520
representing the total loss of $36,520 minus a $1,000 deductible. Grant
testified that Premier suffered a loss of business and reputation.
Subsequently, they sold the business for a sale price that Grant estimated
was over $1 million below the dealership’s value.
The defense did not present testimony or evidence. The jury found
Jarratt guilty as charged.
The sentencing was held on September 9, 2019. The court stated that
it had reviewed the presentence investigation (“PSI”) and letters submitted
on behalf of the defendant. It noted that Jarratt left the property when he
realized the theft was discovered, and he never returned, never offered to
“help straighten this mess he created,” and never apologized or offered to
pay his employer back for the money he stole. The only payment Jarratt
made was apparently one $500 payment the week prior to sentencing.
Considering the sentencing factors of La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1, the
court found that Jarratt presented an undue risk that if not incarcerated, he
would commit another crime, in light of his decision to steal on at least 19
occasions (19 car sales). However, the court expressly stated that it was
granting leniency in light of the statements submitted on Jarratt’s behalf, but
also pointed out that Jarratt’s demeanor indicated no remorse and, at times
during the proceeding, he seemed belligerent. The trial judge was of the
opinion that Jarratt’s fleeing and admitting himself to rehab was a
disingenuous attempt to manipulate the outcome of the criminal proceeding.
Jarratt’s failure to make any payments in restitution until the week prior to
sentencing further showed his lack of remorse and insincerity. A lesser
sentence, he stated, would deprecate the seriousness of the offense. The
series of thefts manifested Jarratt’s deliberate disregard for each of the
victims who thought they had purchased cars. The trial judge also found
that Jarratt submitted a letter to the court only when he realized that jail was
a possibility. The trial judge noted that Jarratt, age 53, did not have a serious
criminal history, and he had undertaken a minimal amount of drug
rehabilitation. The trial judge then imposed sentence, as follows:
Eight years’ imprisonment at hard labor, with all but the first
four years suspended, followed by three years’ supervised
probation effective upon his release from incarceration;
As a condition of probation, restitution paid to AmTrust
(Premier’s insurer) in the amount of $36,520 and to Premier in
the amount of $10,000; and,
A recommendation for intensive drug rehabilitation program
The court said further that it would sign a written sentencing form that
would include as a condition of probation that Jarratt not commit an offense
involving controlled dangerous substances because he considered the instant
offense to be “drug related.”
The printed form sentencing document included the sentence above
plus a fine in the amount of $1,000 and “all costs of Court” in default of
which Jarratt would serve 180 days in jail. Additionally, the sentencing
form imposed 18 conditions of probation that include several “fees,” all of
which are briefly listed as follows:
(1) Refrain from violating any laws;
(2) Report to his probation officer;
(3) Permit probation officer visits to your home, employment
(4) Meet all family obligations and financial obligations;
(5) Submit to medical or psychiatric exams deemed
appropriate by probation officer;
(6) Be devoted to employment or occupation approved by
(7) Submit to searches of your person, dwelling or
automobile and property by probation officer;
(8) Refrain from owning any firearms, controlled dangerous
substances, and alcoholic beverages;
(9) Refrain from frequenting disreputable places and
consorting with disreputable people;
(10) Remain within the jurisdiction of the court and obtain
permission from probation officer to leave the area;
(11) Submit to random urinalysis as directed by the probation
(12) Waive all extradition proceedings to other jurisdictions;
(13) Observe a 10 p.m. curfew Sunday through Thursdays and
midnight on Fridays and Saturdays;
(14) Refrain from contacting any victim in this matter and
make full and complete restitution to all victims and
aggrieved parties of this crime in an amount and on a
schedule to be determined by the Court and probation
(15) Pay the following:
1. $150 to the Third JDC Clerk’s Fund;
2. $15 to Crime Victims Reparation Fund;
3. $25 to DARE;
4. $2 to Crime Stoppers;
5. $50 to La. Comm. On Law Enforcement;
6. $15 fees for filing probation documents to Union Parish
Clerk of Court;
7. $71 per month for probation management ($71 × 36 =
8. $11 to the Sex Offender Registry fund;
9. After all restitution, fine, fees and costs have been paid,
$300 cost of defense to IDB, $300 cost of prosecution to
DA’s office, and $300 to Union Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Total of $900;
10.Pay an amount equal to a portion of the fine assessed and
suspended in this proceeding to the Criminal Court Fund.
This appeal followed.
By his sole assignment of error, Jarratt alleges that the district court
made numerous legal errors and abused its discretion by imposing an eightyear sentence with extensive fines, fees, restitution, and conditions on an
indigent first offender that are unattainable and overly burdensome, and,
therefore, the sentence is constitutionally excessive under the circumstances
of this offense and this offender.
Specifically, Jarratt alleges the court made numerous sentencing
errors: the eight-year sentence is excessive even with all but four years of the
hard labor sentence suspended; the “split sentence” with probation that is
conditioned upon restitution is illegal; the financial obligations (restitution,
fines, fees and costs) imposed are “exorbitant” for this defendant; and, the
restitution award is illegal for several additional reasons and many of the
conditions of probation set by the trial court are illegal or inappropriate.
In addition to constitutional excessiveness of the hard labor sentence,
Jarratt specifically argues that the order of $36,520 restitution to the victim’s
insurer, AmTrust, is illegal, and the $10,000 restitution order to the victim,
Premier, is not supported by the record. Further, the court did not consider
or follow newly effective La. C. Cr. P. art. 875.1 when imposing more than
$51,000 in restitution, fees, fines and costs on this indigent defendant.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
An appellate court utilizes a two-pronged test when reviewing a
sentence for excessiveness. First, the record must show that the trial court
took cognizance of the criteria set forth in La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1. The trial
judge is not required to list every aggravating or mitigating circumstance so
long as the record reflects that the sentencing judge adequately considered
the guidelines of the article. State v. Smith, 433 So. 2d 688 (La. 1983); State
v. DeBerry, 50,501 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/13/16), 194 So. 3d 657, writ denied,
16-0959 (La. 5/1/17), 219 So. 3d 332. The goal of La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1 is
articulation of the factual basis for a sentence, not rigid or mechanical
compliance with its provisions. The trial court is not required to assign any
particular weight to any specific matters at sentencing. State v. Parfait,
52,857 (La. App. 2 Cir. 8/14/19), 278 So. 3d 455, writ denied, 19-01659 (La.
12/10/19), 285 So. 3d 489.
Second, the court must determine whether the sentence is
constitutionally excessive. A sentence violates La. Const. art. I, § 20, if it is
grossly out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense or nothing more
than a purposeless and needless infliction of pain and suffering. State v.
Dorthey, 623 So. 2d 1276 (La. 1993); State v. Bonanno, 384 So. 2d 355 (La.
1980). A sentence is considered grossly disproportionate if, when the crime
and punishment are viewed in light of the harm done to society, it shocks the
sense of justice. State v. Weaver, 01-0467 (La. 1/15/02), 805 So. 2d 166;
State v. Meadows, 51,843 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1/10/18), 246 So. 3d 639, writ
denied, 18-0259 (La. 10/29/18), 254 So. 3d 1208.
The trial court has wide discretion to impose a sentence within the
statutory limits and such sentences should not be set aside as excessive in the
absence of a manifest abuse of that discretion. State v. Williams, 03-3514
(La. 12/13/04), 893 So. 2d 7; State v. Allen, 49,642 (La. App. 2 Cir.
2/26/15), 162 So. 3d 519, writ denied, 15-0608 (La. 1/25/16), 184 So. 3d
1289. On review, an appellate court does not determine whether another
sentence may have been more appropriate, but whether the trial court abused
its discretion. State v. Adams, 53,055 (La. App. 2 Cir. 11/20/19), 285 So. 3d
When a defendant fails to timely file a motion to reconsider sentence,
the appellate court’s review is limited to the bare claim that the sentence is
constitutionally excessive. State v. Mims, 619 So. 2d 1059 (La. 1993); State
v. Wade, 53,311 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1/15/20), 289 So. 3d 1158, 1162; State v.
Flores, 52,639 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/10/19), 268 So. 3d 1199.
The sentencing range for theft when the misappropriation or taking
amounts to a value of $25,000 or more is imprisonment at hard labor for not
more than 20 years, or a fine of not more than $50,000, or both. La. R.S.
14:67 B(1). The statute does not prohibit suspension of sentence.
In this case, defense counsel orally requested reconsideration of the
sentence immediately after sentencing and the trial court refused to “take
that up” at the sentencing hearing; he advised counsel to file a written
motion. While no written motion was subsequently filed, we nevertheless
consider defense counsel’s timely oral request for reconsideration (coupled
with the fact that the errors assigned include possible errors patent) sufficient
to review the defendant’s assigned sentencing errors.
We conclude that Jarratt’s sentence of eight years with all but the first
four suspended and three years of supervised probation is not excessive.
The trial court adequately complied with Art. 894.1 citing several of the
factors in that article for the sentence imposed. The theft involved at least
19 separate instances of stealing cash from customers over several months.
When Jarratt’s illicit acts were discovered by management, and Jarratt
realized that he was about to be confronted, he made an excuse to leave the
building and checked himself into a rehab to avoid authorities. The court
stated that Jarratt showed no remorse and, in the court’s view, acted with
extreme insincerity throughout the proceedings. Although the statutory
maximum was hard labor for up to 20 years, Jarratt will actually serve only
the first four years of an eight-year sentence, and the trial court noted that he
will likely be released earlier. We therefore find that the sentence is not
disproportionate to the offense nor does it shock our sense of justice. It is
not constitutionally excessive.
We turn now to the various other errors that Jarratt alleges were illegal
or make the sentence excessive.
First, Jarratt contends that the trial court erred by its “denial of
suspension of sentence” for the first four years of the sentence. The
sentencing transcript shows that the trial court suspended all but the first
four years of the eight-year sentence; however, the written sentencing form
reads: “The first four year(s) of the hard labor portion of sentence is to be
served without suspension of sentence.” Defendant asserts that this
provision in the sentence is illegal because the theft statute, La. R.S. 14:67,
does not grant authority to the trial court to impose a sentence without the
benefit of suspension of sentence.
After review, we conclude that the statement on the sentencing form is
of no consequence in this case.
La. R.S. 14:67 B(1), the sentencing clause for theft over $25,000, does
not authorize a sentence without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension
of sentence. Hence, the trial court has no authority to mandate that the first
four years of a sentence for theft be served without benefit of suspension of
sentence. State v. Ripley, 39,111 (La. App. 2 Cir. 12/15/04), 889 So. 2d
1214, writ denied, 05-0151 (La. 06/24/05), 904 So. 2d 718. However, in this
case, the court did not totally deny Jarratt “the benefit of suspension of
sentence,” as it suspended all but the first four years of the eight-year hard
labor sentence. Although awkwardly written, the phrase on the form was
meant to confirm that the first four years of the eight-year sentence were not
included in the part of the sentence that the court was suspending. The court
suspended “all but the first four years” of the eight-year hard labor sentence.
RESTITUTION, FINES AND FEES
The remainder of errors alleged generally concern the court’s
imposition of fines, fees, and restitution, including the claim that they were
exorbitant, excessive, and contrary to law.
First, Jarratt alleges that the court imposed an illegal sentence when it
ordered him to serve a hard labor sentence and pay restitution, costs and
fees. He maintains that, while a “split sentence” is permitted by La.
C. Cr. P. art. 893, an order of restitution, costs and fees as a condition of
probation where there the defendant must also serve a period of
imprisonment at hard labor is contrary to law, citing both La. C. Cr .P. art.
and several cases, including State v. McDonald, 33,356 (La. App. 2
Cir. 6/21/00), 766 So. 2d 591 (trial court suspended the hard labor portion of
defendant’s two-year sentence and ordered him to pay restitution; held not
illegal); State v. Frith, 561 So. 2d 879 (La. App. 2 Cir.), writ denied, 571 So.
2d 625 (La. 1990) (trial court did not suspend a two-year hard labor
sentence; held that the portion of sentence ordering restitution and payment
to the indigent defender program as a condition of probation was illegal
1 La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 sets out conditions of probation that a court may impose
when it places a defendant on probation, including a requirement that the defendant make
reasonable restitution to the victim. Paragraph B authorizes the court to impose a term of
imprisonment of up to two years without hard labor, as an additional condition of
probation, while paragraph A(7) gives the court discretion to order restitution.
under La. C. Cr. P. arts. 895, 895.1); State v. Modique, 50,413 (La. App. 2
Cir. 1/27/16), 186 So. 3d 283, 289, writ denied, 16-0464 (La. 3/13/17), 216
So. 3d 80 (restitution and payment to the indigent defender program is
authorized only when the trial court suspends the imposition or execution of
sentence); and State v. Bivens, 201-156 (La. App. 3 Cir. 10/5/11), 74 So. 3d
782, writ denied, 11-2494 (La. 3/30/12), 85 So. 3d 115 (following State v.
Jarratt’s argument with respect to La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 B is based on
State v. McDonald, supra, in which this court affirmed a sentence of two
years at hard labor, with the hard labor portion suspended, and the defendant
to pay restitution as a condition of probation pursuant to Art. 895 A(7) and
B(1). This court said that these provisions “therefore, permit * * * the
sentencing court to impose both an order of restitution and a term of
incarceration, without hard labor, as parts of the sentence imposed for a
Paragraph B of Art. 895 permits a court, when the
sentence has been suspended in a felony case, to impose up to two years
incarceration without hard labor as a condition of probation. Paragraph
A(7) of Art. 895 gives the court discretion to order restitution to an
“aggrieved party” for damage or loss caused by the offense. Jarratt contends
that when these two paragraphs are read in conjunction, the inescapable
conclusion is that a court must suspend all of a hard labor sentence in order
to make restitution a condition of probation.
Other cases cited by defendant can be read to imply that all of a hard
labor sentence must be suspended in order to impose an order of restitution.
2 A felony is defined in La. R.S. 14:2 as an offense punishable by imprisonment at
See, e.g. State v. Narcisse, 97-3161, p. 1 (La. 6/26/98), 714 So. 2d 698, 699.
(“A trial court may not require restitution to the victim unless the imposition
or execution of sentencing is suspended”); State v. DeGueurce, 30,334 (La.
App. 2 Cir. 2/25/98), 710 So. 2d 296, writ denied, 98-1213 (La. 10/9/98),
726 So. 2d 18.
The question presented is whether our law requires the sentencing
court to suspend all of a hard labor sentence before it can order the
defendant to make restitution to the victim as a condition of probation. For
the following reasons, we conclude that it does not.
Pursuant to La. C. Cr. P. art. 893, the trial court has the discretion to
suspend certain sentences “in whole or in part” in felony cases and to place a
defendant on probation. If the trial court chooses to suspend all or part of a
sentence, the court may “place the defendant on probation under the
supervision of the division of probation and parole” for a specified time of
not more than three years. La. C. Cr. P. art. 893 A(2).
A probationary sentence carries with it both mandatory and
discretionary conditions. La. C. Cr. P. arts. 895 and 895.1. The conditions
vary depending on the nature of the criminal activity involved as well as the
financial condition and education of the defendant. Those conditions,
applicable to all defendants placed on probation, are stated in La. C. Cr. P.
art. 895, which provides that when the court places a defendant on probation,
“it may impose” certain conditions, including “reasonable reparation or
restitution to the aggrieved party for damage or loss caused by his offense.”
La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 A(7).
However, La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 A converts this from a discretionary
to a mandatory condition where “the victim or his family has suffered any
direct loss of actual cash, any monetary loss pursuant to damage to or loss of
property, or medical expense.” Additionally, in La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 B, the
trial court’s discretion in setting conditions of probation is expanded to
include requiring the probationer to pay a sum of money to the trial court’s
indigent defender program or criminal court fund, the sheriff or clerk of
court, or other specified recipients. In addition, La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 C
requires that the trial court set the monthly probation fee required in La. C.
Cr. P. art. 895 A at not less than $60 nor more than $100.
Articles 893, 895 and 895.1 are all part of the same legislative scheme
of Chapter 2, “Suspended Sentence and Probation,” of Title XXX,
“Sentence.” Clearly these statutes must be read in pari materia. As such, an
ordinary, unstrained reading of these statutes makes it clear that the
discretionary and mandatory “conditions of probation” found Arts. 895 and
895.1 are logically and proximately tied to the probation authorized by Art.
893, which permits the court to place a defendant on supervised probation
after suspending “in whole or in part” any sentence it imposes.
We find nothing in the statutes that provides when a court suspends
only part of a hard labor sentence and places the defendant on supervised
probation pursuant to La. C. Cr. P art. 893, it is prohibited from imposing an
order of restitution, even when restitution is mandatory under Art. 895.1.
This court and others have previously reached the same conclusion. In
State v. Hampton, 52,403 (La. App. 2 Cir. 11/14/18), 261 So. 3d 993, writ
denied, 19-0287 (La. 4/29/19), 268 So. 3d 1029, the defendant was
sentenced to three years at hard labor, all but one year suspended, and two
years’ supervised probation with restitution ordered as a condition of
probation. In State v. Bradley, 99-364 (La. App. 3 Cir. 11/3/99),746 So. 2d
263, the defendant was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor on one count each
of simple burglary and distribution of cocaine, with the sentences to run
concurrently. The court suspended eight years of each sentence and placed
the defendant on five years’ supervised probation with special conditions,
including restitution under La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1. In State v. Dauzat, 590
So. 2d 768 (La. App. 3 Cir. 1991), writ denied, 598 So. 2d 355 (1992), the
defendant was sentenced to five years at hard labor, three years suspended,
and three years’ supervised probation with restitution as a condition of
We also conclude that Jarratt’s argument regarding Art. 895 A(7) and
B(1) is not supported by an ordinary, plain reading of the statutes and
jurisprudence. An order of restitution may be ordered by the court under
Paragraph A(7) “when the defendant has been placed on supervised
probation” pursuant to suspension of all or part of a hard labor sentence.
La. C. Cr. P. art. 893. We conclude that the same reasoning applies to
Both are discretionary conditions of probation that may be
ordered “when a court places a defendant on probation” after suspending all
or part of a hard labor sentence. We surmise that Art. 895 B(1) is intended
by the legislature to be used in those instances, e.g. State v. McDonald,
supra, where a court believes that a sentence of incarceration without hard
labor would be more conductive to rehabilitation. Under this provision,
then, the court could suspend the entire hard labor sentence, as it did in
McDonald, supra, and place the defendant on probation with the condition
that he serve up to two years in jail without hard labor.
3 Of course, it would be unusual for a court to impose a split imprisonment
sentence, part of which served with hard labor, and part served without hard labor.
Our conclusion is further bolstered by the general sentencing
provision in Chapter 1 of Title XXX, La. C. Cr. P. art. 883.2 A, which
became effective January 1, 2000, and provides:
In all cases in which the court finds an actual pecuniary
loss to a victim, or in any case where the court finds that costs
have been incurred by the victim in connection with a criminal
prosecution, the trial court shall order the defendant to provide
restitution to the victim as part of any sentence that the court
Courts interpreting Art. 883.2 have concluded that it authorizes the
court to order restitution as part of the principal sentence imposed,
irrespective of any suspension of sentence, and they distinguish it from a
discretionary or mandatory order to pay restitution as a condition of
probation under La. C. Cr. P. arts. 895 and 895.1, respectively. State v.
Baxley, 2014-48 (La. App. 3 Cir. 5/7/14), 139 So. 3d 556 (a court can order
restitution to be paid in monthly installments when the order is a condition
of probation, but not when restitution is ordered as part of the defendant’s
principal sentence under Art. 883.2); State v. Young, 45,265 (La. App. 2 Cir.
6/23/10), 42 So. 3d 1025 (restitution may be ordered even without a
suspended sentence under Art. 883.2); State v. Craft, 2001-248 (La. App. 3
Cir. 10/3/01), 796 So. 2d 907; State v. Hampton, supra (court may order
restitution under La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 or, alternatively, under La. C. Cr. P.
It would be anomalous to read these statutes in such a way that, on the
one hand, under Art. 883.2, the court is required to order restitution as a part
of any sentence imposed, including a hard labor sentence with no suspension
of sentence, while, on the other hand, as argued by the defendant, when a
court suspends only part of the hard labor sentence and places the defendant
on probation, it cannot order payment of restitution as a condition of
probation because it did not suspend the entire hard labor sentence.
In conclusion, therefore, inasmuch as Art. 893 authorizes a court to
suspend a sentence “in whole or in part” where suspension is allowed under
the law, we conclude by reading this general article together with Arts.
883.2, 895, and 895.1, a sentencing court may impose a hard labor sentence,
suspend part of that sentence and order restitution as a condition of
probation as a part of the sentence. Accordingly, we find no error in this
case, where the court ordered a “split sentence,” suspended all but the last
four years of the eight-year sentence at hard labor, and three years’
supervised probation with, inter alia, an order to pay restitution as a
condition of probation.
In his third argument, Jarratt charges that it is illegal to impose a fine
of $1,000 and an undetermined amount of court costs on an indigent
defendant with the order that in default of payment he is to serve 180 days in
jail. We agree.
It is settled law that an indigent defendant cannot be subjected to
default jail time in lieu of the payment of a fine, costs or restitution. State v.
Lewis, 48,373 (La. App. 2 Cir. 9/25/13), 125 So. 3d 482. A defendant’s
indigent status in such a situation may be discerned from the record. Id.
Where a defendant is represented at trial by the Indigent Defender’s Office,
or on appeal by the Louisiana Appellate Project, this court has considered it
error for a trial court to impose jail time for failure to pay court costs. Id.
The record shows that Jarratt is an indigent defendant and the
sentencing transcript shows that the court recognized him as such.
Accordingly, we vacate that portion of the sentence imposing jail time in
default of payment of the fine and court costs.
The fourth and fifth errors contest the court’s order of restitution. He
asserts that the trial court erred by ordering him to pay $36,520 restitution to
AmTrust for two reasons: First, AmTrust is an insurer and not the victim of
the crime; second, the evidence shows that AmTrust paid only $35,520 to
Premier because the insurance policy had a $1,000 deductible. Additionally,
Jarratt argues that there was no evidence at trial to support the $10,000 order
of restitution to Premier.
Both alleged errors have merit. Pursuant to La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1,
“When a court places the defendant on probation, it shall, as a condition of
probation, order the payment of restitution in cases where the victim or his
family has suffered any direct loss of actual cash, any monetary loss
pursuant to damage to or loss of property, or medical expense.” Similarly,
La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 A(7) gives the trial court discretion to impose an order
of restitution to an “aggrieved party” that has suffered a pecuniary loss.
Louisiana courts have repeatedly held that a defendant cannot be ordered to
pay restitution to insurers because they are not actual victims to crimes such
as theft, burglary, or criminal damage to property. State v. Walker, 15-1026
(La. App. 4 Cir. 4/6/16), 192 So. 3d 813, 819 (restitution to any “other
victim” is allowed only if part of a valid plea agreement; State v. Green, 09-
309 (La. App. 5 Cir. 11/24/09), 28 So. 3d 1105, 1119 (holding the same);
State v. Portie, 2008-1580 (La. App. 4 Cir. 9/16/09), 22 So. 3d 213
(insurance company was not the victim of the crime pursuant to La. C. Cr. P.
art. 895.1, but rather, was “merely fulfilling a contractual obligation to
indemnify the insured for his loss”); State v. Smith, 2008-1030 (La. App. 3
Cir. 3/4/09), 6 So. 3d 309 (insurance company is not actual victim of crime).
In this case, AmTrust was not the victim of theft; it was contractually
obligated to indemnify Premier, the actual victim or aggrieved party, for the
financial losses it incurred directly from the theft. There is no jurisprudence
supporting the notion that an insurer is a victim as contemplated by the Code
of Criminal Procedure. According to the cases cited, the only circumstance
where the insurer may be entitled to restitution is if such is part of a
defendant’s plea agreement, which is not the case here. Any remedy of the
insurer would require a civil action for reimbursement.
We note that Premier, the victim, paid a $1,000 deductible for the
occurrence to AmTrust. However, the court ordered Jarratt to pay restitution
in the amount of $10,000.
La. C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 A(1) requires the court to order “restitution in
a reasonable sum not to exceed the actual pecuniary loss to the victim in an
amount certain.” We find that the $10,000 sum ordered as restitution is
speculative and not supported by the trial evidence. Mr. Grant, one of the
owners of the dealership, testified, without any documentary evidence or
financial records in support, that they sold the car lot for less than its true
value by perhaps $1 million. Similarly, the officer who wrote the PSI
reported that Chris Colbert, another owner/manager, said he personally lost
about $10,000, but Colbert did not appear at trial and there was no evidence
to support the claim at trial or in the PSI. The statute requires a showing of
actual pecuniary loss, which was not shown in this case.
For this reason, we conclude that the court abused its discretion by
ordering Jarratt to pay restitution in the amounts of $36,520 to AmTrust and
$10,000 to Premier.
Jarratt also argues that the restitution order along with other fines,
fees, and costs, which totaled over $51,000, is unreasonable and grossly
excessive, given the fact that he is indigent, 53 years old and will be 57 if he
serves a four-year sentence. Additionally, before making the restitution
order, the court failed to make a finding regarding Jarratt’s ability to actually
make restitution, did not indicate that it had analyzed his earning capacity
and assets before ordering the restitution as well as costs, fines and fees
upon release, and also failed to set forth a payment plan. These errors
rendered the sentence indeterminate that requires that it be vacated. State v.
Ripley, 39,111 (La. App. 2 Cir. 12/15/04), 889 So. 2d 1214, writ denied, 05-
0151 (La. 6/24/05), 904 So. 2d 718.
In Ripley, we held that the sentence was indeterminate when the trial
court ordered restitution as a condition of probation, but failed to set an
exact amount due or to analyze the defendant’s financial ability to pay. La.
C. Cr. P. art. 895.1 A(1) requires that the court order “restitution in a
reasonable sum not to exceed the actual pecuniary loss to the victim in an
amount certain. * * * The restitution payment shall be made, in the
discretion of the court, either in a lump sum or in monthly installments based
on the earning capacity and assets of the defendant.” Thus, the statute
requires that the amount of restitution be determined by the court, and that it
be paid in lump sum or monthly installments depending on the defendant’s
earning capacity and assets. Failing to make an inquiry into Jarratt’s
abilities and assets, and failure to set a determinate payment schedule for
restitution, is error patent requiring that the sentence be vacated and the case
remanded for resentencing.
Furthermore, the court cannot delegate these matters to a probation
officer to determine the amount of restitution upon defendant’s release from
incarceration as was once permitted by pre-Article 875.1 law. State v.
We also observe that Jarratt was sentenced on September 9, 2019. On
August 1, 2019, La. C. Cr. P. art. 875.1,4
“Determination of substantial
4 The complete statute reads:
A. The purpose of imposing financial obligations on an offender who is
convicted of a criminal offense is to hold the offender accountable for his
action, to compensate victims for any actual pecuniary loss or costs
incurred in connection with a criminal prosecution, to defray the cost of
court operations, and to provide services to offenders and victims. These
financial obligations should not create a barrier to the offender’s
successful rehabilitation and reentry into society. Financial obligations in
excess of what an offender can reasonably pay undermine the primary
purpose of the justice system which is to deter criminal behavior and
encourage compliance with the law. Financial obligations that cause
undue hardship on the offender should be waived, modified, or forgiven.
Creating a payment plan for the offender that is based upon the ability to
pay, results in financial obligations that the offender is able to comply
with and often results in more money collected. Offenders who are
consistent in their payments and in good faith try to fulfill their financial
obligations should be rewarded for their efforts.
B. For purposes of this Article, “financial obligations” shall include any fine,
fee, cost, restitution, or other monetary obligation authorized by this Code
or by the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 and imposed upon the
defendant as part of a criminal sentence, incarceration, or as a condition of
the defendant's release on probation or parole.
C. (1) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, prior to ordering
the imposition or enforcement of any financial obligations as defined by
this Article, the court shall determine whether payment in full of the
aggregate amount of all the financial obligations to be imposed upon the
defendant would cause substantial financial hardship to the defendant or
(2) The defendant may not waive the judicial determination of a
substantial financial hardship required by the provisions of this Paragraph.
D. (1) If the court determines that payment in full of the aggregate amount of
all financial obligations imposed upon the defendant would cause
substantial financial hardship to the defendant or his dependents, the court
shall do either of the following:
(a) Waive all or any portion of the financial obligations.
(b) Order a payment plan that requires the defendant to make a
monthly payment to fulfill the financial obligations.
(2)(a) The amount of each monthly payment for the payment plan ordered
pursuant to the provisions of Subparagraph (1)(b) of this Paragraph shall
be equal to the defendant’s average gross daily income for an eight-hour
(b) If the court has ordered restitution, half of the defendant’s monthly
payment shall be distributed toward the defendant’s restitution obligation.
(c) During any periods of unemployment, homelessness, or other
circumstances in which the defendant is unable to make the monthly
payments, the court or the defendant’s probation and parole officer is
authorized to impose a payment alternative, including but not limited to
any of the following: substance abuse treatment, education, job training, or
(3) If, after the initial determination of the defendant’s ability to fulfill his
financial obligations, the defendant’s circumstances and ability to pay his
financial obligations change, the defendant or his attorney may file a
motion with the court to reevaluate the defendant’s circumstances and
determine, in the same manner as the initial determination, whether under
the defendant’s current circumstances payment in full of the aggregate
amount of all the financial obligations imposed upon the defendant would
cause substantial financial hardship to the defendant or his dependents.
Upon such motion, if the court determines that the defendant’s current
circumstances would cause substantial financial hardship to the defendant
or his dependents, the court may either waive or modify the defendant’s
financial obligation, or recalculate the amount of the monthly payment
made by the defendant under the payment plan set forth in Subparagraph
(1)(b) of this Paragraph.
E. If a defendant is ordered to make monthly payments under a payment plan
established pursuant to the provisions of Subparagraph (D)(1)(b) of this
Article, the defendant’s outstanding financial obligations resulting from
his criminal conviction are forgiven and considered paid-in-full if the
defendant makes consistent monthly payments for either twelve
consecutive months or consistent monthly payments for half of the
defendant’s term of supervision, whichever is longer.
F. If, at the termination or end of the defendant’s term of supervision, any
restitution ordered by the court remains outstanding, the balance of the
unpaid restitution shall be reduced to a civil money judgment in favor of
the person to whom restitution is owed, which may be enforced in the
same manner as provided for the execution of judgments pursuant to the
Code of Civil Procedure. For any civil money judgment ordered under
this Article, the clerk shall send notice of the judgment to the last known
address of the person to whom the restitution is ordered to be paid.
G. The provisions of this Article shall apply only to defendants convicted of
offenses classified as felonies under applicable law.
financial hardship to the defendant,” became effective and is applicable to
this case.5 For sentences imposed after August 1, 2019, Art. 875.1 C(1)
requires a hearing in the district court to determine whether any “financial
obligations,” which are defined in paragraph B as “any fine, fee, cost,
restitution, or other monetary obligation,” will impose undue hardship on the
defendant or his dependents. This hearing cannot be waived. La. C. Cr. P.
art. 875.1 C(2). Pursuant to this hearing, the court is authorized to waive all
or part of the payments or to make a payment plan. Additionally, La. C. Cr.
P. art. 875.1 D(2) offers options for the payment plan or alternatives to
Most importantly, Art. 875.1 A enacts the policy that “financial
obligations” (fines, fees, costs, and restitution) should not create a barrier to
the offender’s successful rehabilitation and reentry into society. Financial
obligations in excess of what an offender can reasonably pay undermine the
primary purpose of the justice system which is to deter criminal behavior
and encourage compliance with the law. Financial obligations that cause
undue hardship on the offender should be waived, modified, or forgiven.
In view of these provisions, our concern in this case is that the trial
court appears to have imposed on an indigent defendant nearly every
available fine, assessment, fee, and court cost, as well as restitution pursuant
to La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 and 895.1, all as a part of a fairly substantial term of
imprisonment for a first offender, and little, if any, evidence that the
defendant has or will have wherewithal to successfully meet these conditions
5 Acts 2018, No. 668, § 6.
of probation. In short, the sentence appears to be doomed to failure from the
outset in terms of rehabilitation and reentry into society.
Accordingly, on remand, the sentencing court is instructed to hold a
hearing to whereby it may make a judicial determination of the hardship of
all court-imposed financial obligations on the defendant when imposing such
obligations and other conditions of probation in light of La. C. Cr. P. art.
Finally, Jarratt challenges several of the other conditions of probation.
Because we are vacating the entire sentence and remanding for resentencing
per our instructions above, we deem it unnecessary to traverse these alleged
errors. We note, however, that Jarratt challenges the portion of condition
No. 8 requiring that he refrain from owning or possessing a firearm on the
basis that such condition is not reasonably related to his rehabilitation for
this offense. The office theft in this case is not a crime of violence and
Jarratt has no criminal history involving crimes of violence. There is
nothing in the record that would support a finding that this condition of
probation is reasonably related to the theft of money from his employer to
support his opioid addiction. Without more, this condition of probation that
prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right is in no way related to Jarratt’s
rehabilitation as required by La. C. Cr. P. art. 895 A. See State v. Pashandi,
490 So. 2d 679 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1986), and case analysis therein.6
6 On remand we highly recommend State v. Pashandi for providing “the best
formula for evaluating whether a probationary condition is reasonably related to
rehabilitation.” Id. at 684.
The discussion of the alleged illegal conditions of probation and the
illegal order of restitution to the insurer are addressed under the assigned
error. No other errors patent were found.
Outcome: For the foregoing reasons, the defendant’s conviction is affirmed; we
vacate and set aside the sentence and we remand the case to the trial court
for resentencing in accordance with the principles and instructions set forth