Restitution and the Statute of Repose

HB 3235 was introduced this week by no fewer than 17 state representatives. It requires that a criminal court in a sentencing hearing provide for appropriate restitution to the crime victim. This is now discretionary. This I think is appropriate but its utility is limited by the defendant’s ability to pay and there may be a conflict between the defendants ability to pay restitution and sentencing the defendant to incarceration.

What interests me particularly though is when our legislature feels it appropriate that victims ought to get restitution. If a condominium falls on someone four years after it was built, the legislature believes there should be no restitution. If a school or bridge collapses 6 years after completion, our legislature believes the the victims should not receive any restitution. These are the results of the legislature’s granting of immunity to absolutely everyone in the construction industry through the statute of repose.

In Washington, I guess, you’d be better off if you were shot than if you were hurt in a collapsing buiding, bridge or any other constructed thing. You’d have a better chance of the responsible person covering your medical bills if that person were in prison than you would have if the person was a member of the construction industry.


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