Today the Fifth Circuit gave victims of child pornography who are seeking restitution a significant victory. The Fifth Circuit agreed with my arguments that the relevant restitution statute does not contain a proximate cause requirement for most categories of losses for which restitution can be awarded. As a result, a victim of child pornography need only show that she was harmed to receive, for example, restitution for lost income or psychiatric counseling expenses — not that she suffered proximate harm from a defendant’s crime. Under the Fifth Circuit’s analysis, a victim of a widely distributed child pornography will not have to trace out loss to each and every individual defendant who views images of her being abused.
If followed by other courts, the Fifth Circuit’s decision will likely significantly expand the restitution that child pornography victims will receive. A copy of the decision can be found here.