Aaron Michael Petton v. State


In The Court of Appeals Sixth Appellate District of Texas at Texarkana No. 06-19-00230-CR AARON MICHAEL PETTON, Appellant V. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee On Appeal from the 294th District Court Van Zandt County, Texas Trial Court No. CR17-00130 Before Morriss, C.J., Burgess and Stevens, JJ. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Burgess MEMORANDUM OPINION A Van Zandt County jury1 convicted Aaron Michael Petton of two counts of aggravated sexual assault and assessed a sentence of life imprisonment for each count.2 The judgment for the first count of aggravated sexual assault contains an order to pay a total of $5,722.00 in restitution to the Van Zandt County Criminal District Attorney and Canton Police Department for forensic testing, which is reflected in the clerk’s bill of costs. On appeal, Petton argues that the trial court erred in ordering the payment of restitution to a non-victim. Because we agree, we delete the order to pay restitution from the bill of costs and the first judgment for aggravated sexual assault and affirm the judgment, as modified. Because it is not the subject of any point of error in Petton’s appeal, we also affirm the second judgment for aggravated sexual assault. In relevant part, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows for the trial court, in its discretion, to order a defendant to make restitution “to any victim of the offense.” TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 42.037(a). “Restitution serves multiple purposes, including restoring the victim to the status quo and forcing an offender to address and remedy the specific harm that he has caused.” Hanna v. State, 426 S.W.3d 87, 91 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). “However, the legislature has also recognized limits on the right to restitution: . . . it may be ordered only to a victim of an offense for which the defendant is charged.” Id.3 1 Originally appealed to the Twelfth Court of Appeals, this case was transferred to this Court by the Texas Supreme Court pursuant to its docket equalization efforts. See TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 73.001. We follow the precedent of the Twelfth Court of Appeals in deciding this case. See TEX. R. APP. P. 41.3. 2 The jury also assessed a $5,000.00 fine on the first count of aggravated sexual assault. 3 We recognize that legislative changes not in effect at the time of Petton’s conviction allow a trial court to order that restitution be paid to a victim’s compensation fund that has compensated the victim. See Act of May 23, 2019, 86th 2 “[D]eletion of a written restitution order is appropriate . . . when the trial judge does not have statutory authority to impose the specific restitution order.” Burt v. State, 445 S.W.3d 752, 757 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). “For example, . . . a trial judge does not have authority to order restitution to anyone except the victim(s) of the offense for which the defendant is convicted.” Id. at 757–58 (footnote omitted) (citations omitted). Imposition of restitution to someone other than a victim is a …

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