State v. Pearce

In State v. Pearce, 156 Ariz. 287, 289, 751 P.2d 603, 605 (App. 1988), the defendant pled guilty to theft. The court, interpreting the definition of "economic loss" in the restitution statutes, held Pearce's restitution should be limited to the economic loss caused by the theft and could not include breach of contract damages and lost profits that arose as a result of the theft. Id. at 288-90, 751 P.2d at 604-06. The court held that such contract damages were consequential and could not be assessed because they did not "'flow' from the acts to which Pearce pled guilty." Id. at 289, 751 P.2d at 605. In so concluding, the court discussed the threat to a defendant's due process rights where a court orders payment of civil damages as a part of a sentence in a criminal case: A judge may infer from a jury verdict of guilt . . . that a defendant is liable to the crime victim. But a trial court cannot properly conclude that the defendant owes money to a third party for other unproved or disproved crimes or conduct. A party sued civilly has important due process rights, including . . . a right to a trial by jury on the specific issues of liability and damages. Id.