Blue Book Value of a Car is Not Sufficient Basis for Restitution Order

The Second District Court of Appeals in Montgomery County has held that an award of restitution for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle cannot be simply based on the Blue Book value of the car.

The case is State v. Kennedy, 2012-Ohio-5215.

The Defendant was charged with grand theft auto.  As part of a plea deal, he pled no contest to a lesser-included misdemeanor offense of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

The pre-sentence investigation report contained the following in the victim impact statement under the heading “Economic Loss”: “$1,660.  This amount represents the Kelly Blue Book value of [the victim’s] 2000 Ford Taurus.  This information has been verified.”

Based on this information, the trial court ordered the Defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $1,660.

The court reversed the order of restitution.  The court said,

In the case before us, we do not know where the information concerning the amount of the victim’s loss came from other than that it may have come from the “Kelly Blue Book,” and it “has been verified.”  Elsewhere in the pre-sentence investigation report, it is stated that the victim “stated he never returned the vehicle.” 

The court noted possible problems with relying on the Blue Book Value of the car.  In particular, the court noted that the “Blue Book values depend upon the condition of the vehicle.”  In this case, the trial judge did not hear any evidence about the condition of the vehicle and the pre-sentence investigation report included statements that the car “didn’t work,” and “was a piece of junk.”

The court was also concerned that due process rights were violated because the defendant “never had an opportunity to rebut this at a hearing, although the pre-sentence investigation report quotes him as saying that ‘the victim and her friend took the vehicle while he was in jail and junked the car.’”

Because the restitution order was not supported by “competent and credible evidence at a hearing.” The matter was remanded for a new restitution hearing.


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