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National Crime Victim Law Institute

United States v. Jackson, No. 2:16-cr-00054-DCN, 2018 WL 3127241 (D.S.C. June 26, 2018) (slip copy)

October 25, 2018

Defendants were indicted on multiple counts of trafficking a minor for sex and related charges.  The lead defendant disputed the amount of restitution he would be required to pay to the four minor-victims of sex trafficking.  The court noted first the government’s “puzzling” decision not to seek restitution from the other co-defendants in the case given the mandatory nature of restitution.  However, “just because the government chose not to pursue restitution against the other defendants in this case does not mean that the court will now deny the restitution levied upon [lead defendant].”  Although defendant was just one of many defendants, “because [he] contributed at least in part to the minor victims’ losses, the [Trafficking and Violence Protection Act] allows the court to make him jointly and severally liable for the full restitution amount.”  Further, the court concluded that the government met its burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the losses suffered by the four minor-victims were attributable to him.  The court also explained that as dictated by the restitution statute, the court must include the greater of the gross income or value to the defendant of the victim’s services, or the value of the victim’s labor as guaranteed under the minimum wage.  Here, the court’s award was based on the minor-victims’ calculations of their average daily earnings as provided in their victim impact statements, in statements to the police department, and in statements of the co-defendants.  Although not proven with exactitude, the court determined that the restitution statute does not require exactness, only “some reasonable certainty.”  Finding that standard was met, the court found the restitution amount to be proper.